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Mount Pinatubo

Mount Pinatubo
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The eruption column of Mount Pinatubo on June 12, 1991, three days before the climactic eruption.
Elevation Script error: No such module "convert".(current)
1,745 m (5,725 ft) (before 1991 eruption)
Pronunciation /ˌpnəˈtb/
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Location Provinces of Zambales, Tarlac and Pampanga on Luzon island, Philippines
Range Zambales Mountains

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  • This is a redirect from a page that has been moved (renamed). This page was kept as a redirect to avoid breaking links, both internal and external, that may have been made to the old page name. For more information follow the category link._ 15°08′30″N 120°21′00″E / 15.14167°N 120.35000°E / 15.14167; 120.35000]Coordinates: [// Template:If empty
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Type Stratovolcano[1]
Age of rock Between 635,000 ± 80,000
and 1.1 ± 0.09 million years[2]
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Last eruption June 15, 1991

Mount Pinatubo is an active stratovolcano in the Cabusilan Mountains on the island of Luzon, near the tripoint of the Philippine provinces of Zambales, Tarlac, and Pampanga.[3][3][4] Before the volcanic activities of 1991, its eruptive history was unknown to most people. It was heavily eroded, inconspicuous and obscured from view. It was covered with dense forest which supported a population of several thousand indigenous people, the Aetas, who fled to the mountains during the Spanish conquest of the Philippines.

The volcano's Plinian / Ultra-Plinian eruption on 15 June 1991 produced the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century after the 1912 eruption of Novarupta in the Alaska Peninsula.[5] Complicating the eruption was the arrival of Typhoon Yunya (Diding), bringing a lethal mix of ash and rain to areas surrounding the volcano. Successful predictions at the onset of the climactic eruption led to the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from the surrounding areas, saving many lives, but the surrounding areas were severely damaged by pyroclastic flows, ash deposits, and subsequently, by the lahars caused by rainwaters re-mobilizing earlier volcanic deposits causing extensive destruction to infrastructure and changing the river systems months to years after the eruption.[5][6]

The effects of the eruption were felt worldwide. It ejected roughly Script error: No such module "convert". or Script error: No such module "convert". of magma, and Script error: No such module "convert". [[Sulfur_dioxide|Template:Chem/atomTemplate:Chem/atomTemplate:Chem/atom]], bringing vast quantities of minerals and metals to the surface environment. It injected more particulate into the stratosphere than any eruption since Krakatoa in 1883. Over the following months, the aerosols formed a global layer of sulfuric acid haze. Global temperatures dropped by about Script error: No such module "convert". in the years 1991-93,[7] and ozone depletion temporarily increased substantially.[8]

Overview of the area

File:Tephra fall from 1991 eruption of Mt Pinatubo.gif
The location of Mount Pinatubo and the regional ash fallout from the 1991 eruption.

The volcano is Script error: No such module "convert". northwest of Manila, the capital of the Philippines. Near Mount Pinatubo, the United States maintained two large military bases in the region. The U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay was Script error: No such module "convert". south of Pinatubo, and the extent of Clark Air Base was just Script error: No such module "convert". east of the volcano's summit.[9] The volcano's location on Luzon is in close proximity to about 6 million people.[10]

The Aetas

An indigenous group of people, the Aetas (also spelled as Ayta/Ita), had lived on the slopes of the volcano and in surrounding areas for several centuries, having fled the lowlands to escape persecution by the Spanish during their conquest of the Philippines which began in 1565. They were a hunter-gatherer people who were extremely successful in surviving in the dense jungles of the area. These people also grew some staple crops such as wheat, barley, rice and raised animals.[11]

In total, about 30,000 people lived on the flanks of the volcano in about 25 established barangays (villages) and other small settlements like Tarukan village and Maruglu. The dense jungle covering most of the mountain and surrounding peaks supported the hunter-gathering Aeta, while on the surrounding flatter areas, the abundant rainfall of almost Script error: No such module "convert". annually provided by the monsoon climate and the fertile volcanic soils provided good conditions for agriculture.[12]


Mount Pinatubo's summit before the 1991 eruption was Script error: No such module "convert". above sea level, only about Script error: No such module "convert". above nearby plains, and only about Script error: No such module "convert". higher than surrounding peaks, which largely obscured it from view.[13] It is part of a chain of volcanoes which lie along the western side of the edge of the island of Luzon called the Zambales Mountains.[14]

Pinatubo belongs to the Cabusilan Mountains, the central range of the Zambales Mountains, which consists of Mt. Cuadrado, Mt. Negron, Mt. Mataba and Mt. Pinatubo.[15] They are subduction volcanoes, formed by the Eurasian Plate sliding under the Philippine Mobile Belt along the Manila Trench to the west. Mount Pinatubo and the other volcanoes on this volcanic belt arise due to magma occlusion from this subduction plate boundary.[16]

Pinatubo is flanked on the west by the Zambales Ophiolite Complex, which is an easterly-dipping section of Eocene oceanic crust uplifted during the late Oligocene. The Tarlac Formation north, east and southeast of Pinatubo consists of marine, nonmarine and volcaniclastic sediments formed in the late Miocene and Pliocene.[17]

The most recent study of Mount Pinatubo before the activities of 1991 was the overall geological study in 1983 and 1984 made by F. G. Delfin for the Philippine National Oil Company as part of the surface investigations of the area before exploratory drilling and well testing for geothermal energy sources in 1988 to 1990. He recognized two life histories of the mountain, which he classified as 'ancestral' and 'modern' Pinatubo.[17][18]

Ancestral Pinatubo

File:Pre-eruption Pinatubo.jpg
Pinatubo before the major eruption of 1991.

Activity of Ancestral Pinatubo seems to have begun about 1.1 million years ago and probably ended tens of thousands of years or more before the birth of 'Modern Pinatubo'. Much of the rugged land around the present volcano consists of remnants of 'ancestral' Pinatubo. It was an andesite and dacite stratovolcano whose eruptive activity was much less explosive than modern Pinatubo. Its center was roughly where the current volcano is. The projected height of the mountain is up to Script error: No such module "convert"., 1,43 miles above sea level if it was a lone peak, based on profile fitting to the remaining lower slopes, or lower if it had more than one peak.[17]

The old volcano is exposed in the walls of an old Script error: No such module "convert". wide caldera, referred to as Tayawan Caldera by Delfin. Some of the nearby peaks are the remnants of ancestral Pinatubo, left behind when the softer parts of the old mountain slopes were eroded by weathering. Ancestral Pinatubo is a somma volcano with 'Modern' Pinatubo as the new cone. Its remaining caldera rim includes Mount Donald MacDonald, forming the southeast rim, and Mount Tayawan, the longer north to northeast rim, after which the caldera was named.[17]

Mount Dorst, to the east, is part of the dip slope of the ancestral Pinatubo. Several mountains near modern Pinatubo are old satellite vents of ancestral Pinatubo, forming volcanic plugs and lava domes. These satellite vents were probably active around the same time as the ancestral volcano and include the domes of Mount Negron, Mount Cuadrado, Mount Mataba, and the Bituin and Tapungho plugs.[17]

Modern Pinatubo

  • ~33,000 BC: After a long period of dormancy, Modern Pinatubo was born in Pinatubo's cataclysmic and most explosive eruption, estimated to be five times larger than the 1991 eruption. It deposited all around the mountain up to Script error: No such module "convert". of pyroclastic flow material up to Script error: No such module "convert". thick. The total volume of volcanic material ejected during the eruption is unknown. The removal of so much material from the underlying magma chamber caused the Tayawan caldera. The eruptive period started by the eruption is referred to by Delfin as the Inararo Eruptive Period, named after a village that was destroyed in the 1991 eruption.[17]

Later eruptions of Modern Pinatubo occurred episodically and lasted for periods much shorter than the repose intervals between them. Subsequent eruptions and eruptive period occurred about:

  • ~15,000 BC (Sacobia Eruptive Period)
  • ~7000 BC (Pasbul Eruptive Period). Its eruptions were as energetic, if not as voluminous as the Inararo eruptions.
  • ~4000–3000 BC (Crow Valley Eruptive Period). This and the Maraunot period's eruptions were smaller than the Inararo eruption but about 2 to 3 times as big as that of 1991 based on the pyroclastic flow runout distances and depths of valley filling.
  • ~1900–300 BC (Maraunot Eruptive Period)
  • ~1500 AD (Buag Eruptive Period). Its eruptions were roughly the same size as those of 1991.

Each of these eruptions seems to have been very large, ejecting more than 10 km³ of material and covering large parts of the surrounding areas with pyroclastic flow deposits. Some eruptive periods have lasted decades and perhaps as much as several centuries and might appear to include multiple large explosive eruptions.[17]

The maximum size of eruptions in each eruptive period though have been getting smaller through the >35,000-yr history of modern Pinatubo, but this might be an artifact of erosion and (or) burial of older deposits. The oldest eruption of modern Pinatubo, Inararo, was also its largest.

The 1991 eruption was among the smallest documented in its geologic record.[17]

The volcano has never grown very large between eruptions, because it produces mostly unwelded, easily erodible deposits, and periodically destroys the viscous domes that fill its vents. After the Buag eruption (~1500 AD), the volcano lay dormant, its slopes becoming completely covered in dense rainforest and eroded into gullies and ravines. The ~500-year repose though between the Buag and present eruptive periods is among the shorter repose periods recognized in its geologic history.[17]

Possible precursor in 1990

On July 16, 1990, the major 1990 Luzon earthquake of magnitude 7.7 struck central Luzon. This was the largest earthquake recorded in 1990,[19][20] comparable in size to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Its epicenter was in the municipality of Rizal, Nueva Ecija,[21] about 100 km northeast of Pinatubo, and faulted northwest-southeast through three provinces.

It also followed the Philippine Fault System west as far as Baguio City, which was devastated, and is located about Script error: No such module "convert". north-northeast of Pinatubo, leading volcanologists to speculate that it might ultimately have triggered the 1991 eruption, although this is impossible to prove conclusively. Two weeks after the earthquake, local residents reported steam coming from the volcano, but scientists who visited the mountain in response found only small landslides rather than any eruptive activity.

1991 activities leading to the eruption

On March 15, 1991, a succession of earthquakes were felt by villagers on the northwestern side of the volcano. Further earthquakes of increasing intensity were felt over the next two weeks, and it became clear some kind of volcanic activity was likely. On April 2, the volcano awoke, with phreatic eruptions occurring near the summit along a Script error: No such module "convert". long fissure. Over the next few weeks, small eruptions continued, dusting the surrounding areas with volcanic ash. Seismographs recorded hundreds of small earthquakes every day.

Scientists immediately installed monitoring equipment and analyzed the volcano for clues as to its previous eruptive history. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal found in old volcanic deposits revealed the last three major explosive eruption periods in recent millennia, about 5500, 3500 and 500 years ago. Geological mapping showed that much of the surrounding plains were formed by lahar deposits from previous eruptions.

Volcanic activity increased throughout May. Measurements of sulfur dioxide emissions showed a rapid increase from Script error: No such module "convert". per day by May 13 to Script error: No such module "convert". per day by May 28. This implied that there was a rising column of fresh magma beneath the volcano. After May 28, the amount of Template:Chem/atomTemplate:Chem/atomTemplate:Chem/atom being emitted decreased substantially, raising fears that the degassing of the magma had been blocked somehow, leading to a pressure build-up in the magma chamber and a high likelihood of explosive eruptions.

The first magmatic eruptions occurred on June 3, and the first large explosion on June 7 generated an ash column Script error: No such module "convert". high. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) issued a warning indicating the possibility of a major eruption within two weeks.


File:Pinatubo evacuation areas.gif
A map of Mt Pinatubo showing nearby peaks and the evacuation zones.

Given all the signs that a very large eruption was imminent, PHIVOLCS – assisted by the U.S. Geological Survey – worked to convince local inhabitants of the severity of the threat. A false warning might have led to cynicism about any later warnings, but delaying a warning until an eruption began might lead to thousands of deaths, so the volcanologists were under some pressure to deliver a timely and accurate assessment of the volcanic risk.

Three successive evacuation zones were defined, the innermost containing everything within 10 km of the volcano's summit, the second extending from 10 to 20 km from the summit, and the third extending from Script error: No such module "convert". from the summit (Clark Air Base and Angeles City were in this zone). The Script error: No such module "convert". and Script error: No such module "convert". zones had a total population of about 40,000, while some 331,000 people lived in the Script error: No such module "convert". zone.

Five stages of volcanic alert were defined, from level 1 (low level seismic disturbances) up to level 5 (major eruption in progress). Daily alerts were issued stating the alert level and associated danger area, and the information was announced in major national and local newspapers, on radio and television stations, by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and directly to the endangered inhabitants.

Many of the Aeta who lived on the slopes of the volcano left their villages of their own volition when the first explosions began in April, gathering in a village about Script error: No such module "convert". from the summit. They moved to increasingly distant villages as the eruptions escalated, some Aeta moving up to nine times in the two months before the colossal eruption.

The first formal evacuations were ordered from the Script error: No such module "convert". zone on April 7. Evacuation of the Script error: No such module "convert". zone was ordered when a level 4 alert was issued on June 7. A level 5 alert triggered evacuation of the Script error: No such module "convert". zone on June 13, and in all some 60,000 people had left the area within Script error: No such module "convert". of the volcano before June 15. Most people temporarily relocated to Manila and Quezon City, with some 30,000 using the Amoranto Velodrome in Quezon City as an evacuee camp.

1991 eruption

The second-largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century, and by far the largest eruption to affect a densely populated area, occurred at Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines on June 15, 1991. The eruption produced high-speed avalanches of hot ash and gas, giant mudflows, and a cloud of volcanic ash hundreds of miles across.[22]

Climactic eruption buildup

The eruption cloud shortly before the climactic eruption.

In early June, tiltmeter measurements had shown that the volcano was inflating, evidently due to growing amounts of magma filling the reservoir beneath the summit. At the same time, seismic activity, previously concentrated at a depth of a few kilometers below a point about Script error: No such module "convert". northwest of the summit, shifted to shallow depths just below the summit.

On June 7, the first magmatic eruptions took place with the formation of a lava dome at the summit of the volcano. The dome grew substantially over the next five days, reaching a maximum diameter of about Script error: No such module "convert". and a height of Script error: No such module "convert"..

Timely forecasts of an eruption by scientists from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology and the U.S. Geological Survey enabled people living near the volcano to evacuate to safer distances, saving at least 5,000 lives.

A small explosion at 03:41 on June 12 marked the beginning of a new, more violent phase of the eruption.

A few hours later the same day, large explosions lasting about half an hour generated an eruption column which quickly reached heights of over Script error: No such module "convert"., and which generated pyroclastic flows extending up to Script error: No such module "convert". from the summit in some river valleys. Fourteen hours later, a 15-minute eruption hurled ash to heights of Script error: No such module "convert".. Friction in the uprushing ash column generated abundant lightning.

A third large eruption began at 08:41 on June 13, after an intense swarm of small earthquakes over the previous two hours. It lasted about five minutes, and the eruption column once again reached 24 km. After three hours of quiet, seismic activity began, growing more and more intense over the next 24 hours, until a three-minute eruption generated a Script error: No such module "convert". high eruption column at 13:09 on June 14.

Tephra fall from these four large eruptions was extensive to the southwest of the volcano. Two hours after the last of these four explosions, a series of eruptions began which lasted for the next 24 hours, and which saw the production of much larger pyroclastic flows and surges which traveled several kilometres down river valleys on the flanks of the volcano.

Dacite was the igneous rock making up the tephra in these eruptions and in the following climactic event. The most abundant phenocryst minerals were hornblende and plagioclase, but an unusual phenocryst mineral was also present—the calcium sulfate, anhydrite. The dacite magma was more oxidized than most magmas, and the sulfur-rich nature of the eruption was probably causally related to the redox state.

The climactic eruption

File:Pinatubo91 lateral blast plume pinatubo 06-15-91-resized.jpg
On June 15, 1991, the eruption plume minutes after the climactic eruption.

All the seismographs at Clark Air Base had been rendered inoperative by 14:30 on June 15, mostly by pyroclastic density currents. Intense atmospheric pressure variation was also recorded.

On the same day, Typhoon Yunya, locally named as Diding, struck the island, passing about Script error: No such module "convert". north of the volcano. The typhoon rains made seeing the eruption impossible, but measurements showed that ash was ejected to Script error: No such module "convert". high by the most violent phase of the eruption, which lasted about three hours. Pyroclastic flows poured from the summit, reaching as far as Script error: No such module "convert". away from it. Typhoon rains mixed with the ash deposits caused massive lahars.

The ash cloud from the volcano covered an area of some Script error: No such module "convert"., bringing total darkness to much of central Luzon. Almost all of the island received some ash fall, which formed a heavy, rain-saturated snow-like blanket. Tephra fell over most of the South China Sea and ashfall was recorded as far away as Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia.

Twelve days after the first magmatic eruptions of June 3, on June 15, 1991, by about 22:30, and about nine hours after the onset of the most recent climactic phase, atmospheric pressure waves had decreased to the pre-eruption levels. No seismic records were available at this time, but volcanologists believe 22:30 marked the end of the climactic eruption.

Vast quantities of minerals and metals were brought to the surface. Overall, introduced to the surface environment, was an estimated Script error: No such module "convert". of zinc, Script error: No such module "convert". of copper, Script error: No such module "convert". of chromium, Script error: No such module "convert". of nickel, and massive amounts of toxic heavy metals such as Script error: No such module "convert". of lead, Script error: No such module "convert". of arsenic, Script error: No such module "convert". of cadmium, and Script error: No such module "convert". of mercury.[23]

The eruption effects on aircraft

At least 16 commercial aircraft made damaging encounters while flying with the ash cloud ejected by the June 15 eruption, as well as others on the ground. The encounters caused loss of power to one engine on each of two aircraft. 10 engines were damaged and replaced, including all four engines of one jumbo jet. Longer term damage to aircraft and engines was reported, including accumulation of sulfate deposits on engines.[24] The eruption also irreparably damaged the Philippine Air Force's recently retired fleet of Vought F-8s, as these were in open storage at Basa Air Base at the time.[25]

Aftermath of the 1991 eruption

File:Pinatubo early eruption 1991.jpg
The summit caldera as seen on Aug. 1, 1991.

Explosivity of the eruption

The June 15 eruption had a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 6, and came some 450–500 years after the volcano's last known eruptive activity. The eruption ejected about Script error: No such module "convert". of material, making it the largest eruption since that of Novarupta in 1912 and some ten times larger than the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Ejected material such as tephra fallout and pyroclastic flow deposits are much less dense than magma, and the volume of ejected material was equivalent to about Script error: No such module "convert". of unerupted material.[26]

The former summit of the volcano was obliterated and replaced by a caldera Script error: No such module "convert". wide. The highest point on the caldera rim now stood Script error: No such module "convert". above sea level, some Script error: No such module "convert". lower than the pre-eruption summit.

Death toll

A reported 847 people were killed by the eruption, mostly by roofs collapsing under the weight of accumulated wet ash, a hazard amplified by the simultaneous arrival of Typhoon Yunya.[27][28] The evacuation in the days before the eruption certainly saved tens of thousands of lives, and has been hailed as a great success for volcanology and eruption prediction. However, damage to healthcare facilities and the spread of illnesses in relocation facilities due to poor sanitation, led to rising death tolls in the months after the eruption.[citation needed]

After the eruption, about 500,000 people continue to live within Script error: No such module "convert". of the mountain, with population centers including the 150,000 in Angeles City, and 30,000 at Clark Freeport Zone.

Effects on agriculture

Many reforestation projects were destroyed in the eruption, with a total area of Script error: No such module "convert". valued at 125 million pesos destroyed. Agriculture was heavily disrupted, with Script error: No such module "convert". of rice-growing farmland destroyed, and almost 800,000 head of livestock and poultry killed, destroying the livelihoods of thousands of farmers. The cost to agriculture of eruption effects was estimated to be 1.5 billion pesos.

Many farmers near Pinatubo began growing crops such as peanuts, cassava and sweet potatoes, which are quick ripening and could be harvested before the threat of lahar flows during the late summer rainy season.[29]

File:Pinatubo dust layer.jpg
A Space Shuttle (Mission STS-43) photograph of the Earth over South America taken on August 8, 1991, showing double layer of Pinatubo aerosol cloud (dark streaks) above high cumulonimbus tops.

Local economic and social effects

In total, 364 communities and 2.1 million people were affected by the eruption, with livelihoods and houses being damaged or destroyed. More than 8,000 houses were completely destroyed, and a further 73,000 were damaged. In addition to the severe damage sustained by these communities, roads and communications were damaged or destroyed by pyroclastic flows and lahar throughout the areas surrounding the volcanoes. Total losses in 1991 and 1992 alone were estimated at 10.6 and 1.2 billion pesos respectively, including damage to public infrastructure estimated at 3.8 billion pesos (~US$92,000,000). Education for thousands of children was seriously disrupted by the destruction of schools in the eruption.[30]

The eruption of Pinatubo severely hampered the economic development of the surrounding areas. The gross regional domestic product of the Pinatubo area accounted for about 10% of the total Philippine gross domestic product. The GRDP had been growing at 5% annually before the eruption, but fell by more than 3% from 1990 to 1991. In 1991, damage to crops and property was estimated at $374 million, to which continuing lahar flows added a further $69 million in 1992. 42 percent of the cropland around the volcano was affected by mudflows, dealing a severe blow to the agricultural economy in the region.[31]


File:River valley filled in by pyroclastic flows, Mt. Pinatubo.jpg
Before and after the eruption: a river valley filled in by pyroclastic flow deposits.

Since the eruption, each heavy rain brought lahars from the mountain range, displacing thousands of people and inflicting extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure costing billions to repair. A large supply of funds were spent in constructing dikes and dams to control the post-eruption lahar flows.[29]

Several important river systems stem from Mount Pinatubo, the major rivers being the Abacan, Tarlac, Pasig-Potrero, Sta. Lucia, Bucao, Santo Tomas, Maloma, Tanguay, Ashley, and Kileng rivers. Before the eruption, these river systems were important ecosystems, but the eruption filled many valleys with deep pyroclastic deposits. Since 1991, the rivers have been clogged with sediment, and the valleys have seen frequent lahars which continued for years after the eruption. Studies show that the river systems will take years to recover from the 1991 eruption.[29]

Military impact

The United States Air Force initiated a massive airlift effort to evacuate American service members and their families from the two affected bases during and immediately following the eruption, named Operation Fiery Vigil. Most personnel were initially relocated to Guam, Okinawa, and Hawaii, although some returned to the continental United States. Clark Air Base was ultimately abandoned by the United States military, and Subic Bay reverted to Philippine control the next year following the breakdown of lease negotiations.

Global environmental effects

The powerful eruption of such an enormous volume of lava and ash injected significant quantities of aerosols and dust into the stratosphere. Sulfur dioxide oxidized in the atmosphere to produce a haze of sulfuric acid droplets, which gradually spread throughout the stratosphere over the year following the eruption. The injection of aerosols into the stratosphere is thought to have been the largest since the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, with a total mass of Template:Chem/atomTemplate:Chem/atomTemplate:Chem/atom of about Script error: No such module "convert". being injected—the largest volume ever recorded by modern instruments (see chart and figure).

File:TOMS AI Jun16 91.gif
Satellite measurements of ash and aerosol emissions from Mount Pinatubo.

This very large stratospheric injection resulted in a reduction in the normal amount of sunlight reaching the Earth's surface by roughly 10% (see figure). This led to a decrease in northern hemisphere average temperatures of Script error: No such module "convert". and a global fall of about Script error: No such module "convert"..[8][32] At the same time, the temperature in the stratosphere rose to several degrees higher than normal, due to absorption of radiation by the aerosol. The stratospheric cloud from the eruption persisted in the atmosphere for three years after the eruption. While not directly responsible, the eruption may have played a part in the formation of the 1993 Storm of the Century.[33]

The eruption had a significant effect on ozone levels in the atmosphere, causing a large increase in the destruction rate of ozone. Ozone levels at mid-latitudes reached their lowest recorded levels, while in the southern hemisphere winter of 1992, the ozone hole over Antarctica reached its largest ever size until then, with the fastest recorded ozone depletion rates. The eruption of Mount Hudson in Chile in August 1991 also contributed to southern hemisphere ozone destruction, with measurements showing a sharp decrease in ozone levels at the tropopause when the aerosol clouds from Pinatubo and Hudson arrived.

Impact on the indigenous people of Pinatubo

The Aeta people were the hardest hit by the eruption. After the areas surrounding the volcano were declared safe, many Aetas returned to their old villages only to find them destroyed by pyroclastic and lahar deposits. Some were able to return to their former way of life, but most moved instead to government-organized resettlement areas. Conditions on these were poor, with each family receiving only small plots of land not ideal for growing crops. Many Aeta found casual labor working for lowland farmers, and overall Aeta society became much more fragmented, and reliant on and integrated with lowland culture.[34]

Aftermath of the eruptions in pictures

Activity since 1991

File:Mount Pinatubo 20081229 01.jpg
Lake Pinatubo, the resulting crater lake of the 1991 eruption pictured here in 2008.
File:Mount Pinatubo 6.jpg
An aerial view of Mt. Pinatubo and Lake Pinatubo.

Following the climactic eruption of June 15, 1991, activity at the volcano continued at a much lower level, with continuous ash eruptions lasting until August 1991 and episodic eruptions continuing for another month. Activity then remained low until July 1992 when a new lava dome started growing in the caldera. Volcanologists suspected that further violent eruptions could be possible, and some areas were evacuated. However, the eruption was only minor; and since that episode, the volcano has been quiet.

Lake Pinatubo

The 1991 caldera afterwards filled with water from monsoon rains and a crater lake, Lake Pinatubo, was formed. In 1992, a growing lava dome formed an island, which was eventually submerged by the lake. Initially, the lake was hot and highly acidic, with a minimum pH of 2 and a temperature of about Script error: No such module "convert".. Subsequent rainfall cooled and diluted the lake, lowering the temperature to Script error: No such module "convert". and raising the pH to 5.5 by 2003.

The lake deepened by about Script error: No such module "convert". per month on average, eventually submerging the lava dome, until September 2001, when fears that the walls of the crater might be unstable prompted the Philippine government to order a controlled draining of the lake. An estimated 9,000 people were once again evacuated from surrounding areas in case a large flood was accidentally triggered. Workers cut a Script error: No such module "convert". notch in the crater rim, and successfully drained about a quarter of the lake's volume.[35]

File:Mount Pinatubo Crater Lake.JPG
The crater of Mount Pinatubo.

Recent activity

On 26 July 2011, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck close to Pinatubo; however, no major damages or casualties were reported.[36]

On 10 July 2002 the west wall of the crater collapsed, slowly releasing approximately 160 million cubic meters of water and sediments into the Maraunot River in Botolan, Zambales.[37]

Cultural history

The word pinatubo could mean "fertile place where one can make crops grow", or could mean "made to grow", in Tagalog and Sambal, which may suggest a knowledge of its previous eruption in about 1500 AD. There is a local oral tradition suggestive of a folk memory of earlier large eruptions. An ancient legend tells of Bacobaco, a terrible spirit of the sea, who could metamorphose into a huge turtle and throw fire from his mouth. In the legend, when being chased by the spirit hunters, Bacobaco flees to the mountain and digs a great hole in its summit showering the surrounding land with rock, mud, dust and fire for three days; howling so loudly that the earth shakes.[38]

History among Aetas

Aeta elders tell many stories about the history of the mountain, the best known being that it was once a Batung Mabye (Kapampangan language for "living stone"). It was said to have been planted on a kingdom by a displeased sorcerer but relocated by a hero. The mountain was soon turned into the abode of Apo Namalyari ("The lord of happenings/events"), the pagan deity of the Sambal, Aeta, and Kapampangans living on the Zambales range.[39]

It was said to comprise the whole mountain range until Sinukuan of Mount Arayat (the god of the Kapampangans) became a strong rival of Namalyari. Their fight, which took place over the center plains, shattered the mountain into smaller bodies and Mount Arayat lost its center peak. Other versions have it that Pinatubo's peak shattered because of Namalyari's immense fury in an attempt to teach humans the meaning of fear and show how misdeeds will be punished.[39]

According to the elders, Apo Namalyari caused the 1991 eruption because of displeasure toward illegal loggers and Philippine National Oil Company executives who performed deep exploratory drilling and well testing on the mountain looking for geothermal heat from 1988 to 1990.[40] Discouraging results from the wells forced the abandonment of the prospect 13 months before the April 2, 1991 explosions.[41]

Aetas granted ownership of Pinatubo

After being driven away by the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, in May 2009 some 454 Aeta families in Pampanga were given the first clean ancestral land ownership on Mount Pinatubo with the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) by the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the government agency that deals with issues concerning indigenous people of the Philippines. The approved and declared net land area of Script error: No such module "convert". covers the barangays of Mawakat and Nabuklod in Floridablanca, Pampanga, plus a portion of San Marcelino, Zambales, and a portion of Barangay Batiawan in Subic, Zambales.[42]

On January 14, 2010, some 7,000 Aeta families from Zambales were officially granted the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) covering the Zambales side of Pinatubo which includes the summit and Lake Pinatubo, officially becoming their lutan tua (ancestral land). The ancestral domain title covers Script error: No such module "convert". and includes the villages of Burgos, Villar, Moraza and Belbel in Botolan and portions of the towns of Cabangan, San Felipe and San Marcelino.[43][44]

Having the land title will protect them from others — including foreigners — from exploiting their land without compensation to the indigenous tribes. In the past, the Aetas had to contend with mining companies, loggers, and, recently, tourist companies who earn from Mount Pinatubo but do not compensate the local tribes.[44]

Ancestral domain titles are awarded to a certain community or indigenous group who have occupied or possessed the land continuously in accordance with their customs and traditions since time immemorial. They have the legal right to collectively possess and to enjoy the land and its natural resources to the exclusion of others.[44]

Pinatubo in popular culture

Long before Mt. Pinatubo became famous for its cataclysmic eruption, Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay, a native of Zambales, named his C-47 presidential plane "Mt. Pinatubo". The plane crashed in Mount Manunggal in Cebu province in 1957, killing the President and 24 others on board.[45] Mt. Pinatubo is also featured in the Filipino romantic comedy film Crazy Beautiful You in which Kiko and Jackie go on a trip to the lake.

Hiking Pinatubo

The caldera formed and Lake Pinatubo has since become a tourist attraction with the preferred route through Barangay Santa Juliana in Capas, Tarlac.[46]

File:Hiking To Mount Pinatubo.jpg
Hiking to Mount Pinatubo's Crater
File:Hiking in Pinatubo.jpg
4x4 Ride to the Hiking Spot

See also


  1. ^ Pinatubo, Global Volcanism Program.
  2. ^ "Pinatubo Volcano". The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS). 
  3. ^ a b "Tarlac map". University of Texas in Austin Library. Retrieved 2011-08-02. 
  4. ^ "Report of the Philippine Commission to the President, 1901 Vol. III", pg. 141. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1901.
  5. ^ a b "The Cataclysmic 1991 Eruption of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines". Retrieved 2007-04-09. 
  6. ^ Rodolfo, Umbal, and Alonso. "Two Years of Lahars on the Western Flank of Mount Pinatubo: Initiation, Flow Processes, Deposits, and Attendant Geomorphic and Hydraulic Changes". USGS Publications. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  7. ^ Stephen Self, Jing-Xia Zhao, Rick E. Holasek, Ronnie C. Torres, and Alan J. King (1999). "The Atmospheric Impact of the 1991 Mount Pinatubo Eruption". Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "Mt. Pinatubo's cloud shades global climate". Science News. Retrieved 2010-03-07. 
  9. ^ Tactical Pilotage Chart, Sheet K-11B, Defense Mapping Agency, Department of Defense, 1982.
  10. ^ Philippine Census
  11. ^ The Aetas Profile
  12. ^ The Mount Pinatubo Disaster and the People of Central Luzon
  13. ^ Pinatubo, Philippines
  14. ^ Central Luzon Mountaineer
  15. ^ U.S. War Department. "Report of the Philippine Commission, 1901 Vol. III"), pg. 141. Government Printing Office, Washington.
  16. ^ Topinka, Lyn (July 13, 2009). "Description: Mount Pinatubo, Philippines". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved April 18, 2010. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i Newhall, Christopher G.; Punongbayan, Raymundo S., eds. (1996). "Eruptive history of Mount Pinatubo". FIRE and MUD: Eruptions and Lahars of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines. Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology; University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-97585-7. 
  18. ^ Delfin, F.G.; Villarosa, H.G.; and Layugan, D.B. "Geothermal Exploration of the pre-1001 Mount Pinatubo Hydrothermal System". United States Geological Survey Publications. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  19. ^ USGS. "Earthquake Information for 1990". Retrieved 2010-03-06. 
  20. ^ USGS Earthquake Magnitude Policy
  21. ^ Factoran, Fulgencio Jr. S. (2001). "The July 16 Luzon Earthquake: A Technical Monograph". Inter-Agency Committee for Documenting and Establishing Database on the July 1990 Earthquake. Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. Archived from the original on 2008-09-07. Retrieved 2009-01-07. 
  22. ^ "The Cataclysmic 1991 Eruption of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines". U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 113-97. U.S. Geologic Survey. 1997. 
  23. ^ Garret, R.G. (November 2000). "Natural sources of metals in the environment". Human and Ecological Risk Assessment: an International Journal 6 (6): 945–963. doi:10.1080/10807030091124383. 
  24. ^ In 1991, it was Pinatubo -, Philippine News for Filipinos
  25. ^ Philippine Air Force. "Philippine Air Force: F-8 Crusader". Philippine Air Force. Archived from the original on 2008-06-22. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  26. ^ "Mt. Pinatubo, Luzon, Philippines". National Geophysical Data Center (U.S. NOAA). Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  27. ^ CoolGeography - Mount Pinatubo
  28. ^ "Ashfall, Pyroclastic Flow, Lahar: The Aftermath". Pinatubu Volcano: The Sleeping Giant Awakens. 
  29. ^ a b c Reilly 2009, p. 70.
  30. ^ Joan Martí; Gerald Ernst (2005). Volcanoes and the environment. Cambridge University Press. pp. 450. ISBN 978-0-521-59254-3. 
  31. ^ Reilly 2009, p. 69.
  32. ^ Ward, Peter L. (2 April 2009). "Sulfur Dioxide Initiates Global Climate Change in Four Ways" (PDF). Thin Solid Films 517 (11): 3188–3203. Bibcode:2009TSF...517.3188W. doi:10.1016/j.tsf.2009.01.005. Retrieved 2010-03-19. 
  33. ^ Stevens, William (March 14, 1993). "THE BLIZZARD OF '93: Meteorology; 3 Disturbances Became a Big Storm". The New York Times. Retrieved July 29, 2014. 
  34. ^ Shimizu, Hiromu (2002), Struggling for Existence after the Pinatubo Eruption 1991: Catastrophe, Suffering and Rebirth of Ayta Communities. Paper presented inter-congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, Tokyo, Japan. Retrieved from the original on 2004-08-15.
  35. ^ "Filipinos return as volcano lake drains". BBC News. September 7, 2001. 
  36. ^ Gonzaga, Robert and Orejas, Tonette (2011-07-26). "5.9-magnitude quake jolts households in Luzon, Metro areas". Inquirer News.
  37. ^
  38. ^ Rodolfo, K.S. & Umbal, J.V. (2008) "A prehistoric lahar-dammed lake and eruption of Mount Pinatubo described in a Philippine aborigine legend", J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res., 176, 432-437
  39. ^ a b [1]
  40. ^ Loeb, Vernon (1991-07-21). "Natives Who Worship Pinatubo Feel Its Wrath". Seattle Times. Retrieved 2008-11-22. 
  41. ^ Delfin Jr., F.G., Villarosa, H.G.. "Geothermal Exploration of the pre-1991 Mount Pinatubo Hydrothermal System". USGS. Retrieved on 2011-08-14.
  42. ^ (2009-05-27). "Aetas in Pampanga awarded first clean title of ancestral domain". Scribd. Retrieved on 2011-08-14.
  43. ^ Orejas, Tonette (2009-11-27). "It’s official: Pinatubo is now owned by Aetas". Piplinks (originally from Philippine Daily Inquirer). Retrieved on 2011-08-14.
  44. ^ a b c Valdez, Katrina Mennen A. (2010-01-14). "Aetas to receive title to domain at Mt. Pinatubo". Preda Foundation. Retrieved on 2011-08-14.
  45. ^ Dominico C. Moneva (2006-03-18). "Speak out: Magsaysay’s death". Sun Star Cebu. Retrieved 2008-03-21. 
  46. ^ "Trekking-Mt-Pinatubo". 2010-05-29. Retrieved 13 June 2012. 



External links

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