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What Should I Know About Mt. Pinatubo?

By Wanda Albano
Updated May 23, 2024
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Mount Pinatubo is a volcano located in the Philippine island of Luzon. It is classified as a stratovolcano, or composite volcano, made of andesite and dacite, and covered in a dense forest. The volcano's highlands were mostly populated by the Aeta, an indigenous tribal group. The volcano had been dormant for almost 500 years when it suddenly erupted in 1991. The Mount Pinatubo eruption is said to be one of the most violent volcanic calamities of the 20th century.

Mount Pinatubo's eruption was preceded by an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 in July 1990. The epicenter of the earthquake was located 62 miles (100 km) northeast of the volcano and it is speculated that this may have triggered the volcano's awakening. In March 1991, a slew of small earthquakes began to plague the Mount Pinatubo area and in April of that same year, phreatic eruptions occurred near the volcano's summit. These developments eventually led to a slew of major eruptions.

On 15 June 1991, an ash cloud ascended from the volcano, covering an area of a few thousand square miles. This ash cloud effectively blocked out the sun, rendering the mid-afternoon sky as dark as night across most of Central Luzon. Heavy ashfall from the volcano ultimately covered a land area of about 1,544 squares miles (4,000 square kilometers). A blanket of ash, which witnesses likened to snow, reached as far as Manila, the country's capital. Ashfall was also recorded in countries as far away as Vietnam, Cambodia and Malaysia.

To add to the disaster, a tropical typhoon struck the island on the very same day that Mount Pinatubo was fated to have its most climactic eruption. Although local scientists and representatives from the US Geological Survey were on hand to monitor these developments, and while many communities were successfully evacuated before the volcano's first major eruption, many lives were still lost. The combination of volcanic eruption and tropical typhoon was simply too powerful.

Those who had escaped the volcano's wrath were trapped by the anger of the storm, which billowed vast quantities of rocks, ash, and minerals around the area. Witnesses report that it seemed as if they had been caught in a rain of ash and boulders. Many roofs collapsed under the weight of this debris, killing the people under them - people who may have already been outside of the volcano's critical line, had the typhoon not struck.

Mount Pinatubo's violent eruption took the lives of over 500 people, displaced tens of thousands of families, and ravaged indigenous wildlife. A flow of lahar, ash, and other volcanic debris continues to cover a few affected areas. Mount Pinatubo also decimated billions of dollars in property and infrastructure and displaced over tens of thousands of families.

The effects of Mount Pinatubo does not stop there however, for the eruption made itself felt all around the globe. The volcano released over 5 billion cubic meters of ash and other pyroclastic matter into the environment and produced eruption columns reaching 18.64 miles (30 kilometers) into the air. The eruption also reduced the density of the ozone layer, which it achieved by injecting a large amount of aerosols into the stratosphere. The aerosols eventually formed a sulfuric acid haze around the globe, causing the world's temperature to drop by an average of 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius).

The extraneous matter in the earth's atmosphere also provided the world with a slew of brilliant sunsets and sunrises.

CulturalWorld.org is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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Discussion Comments

By anon1004608 — On Mar 14, 2021

Angeles City, that is including Clark Air Base, have been saved from the flow of the eruption. The flow went through the river lakes and widened the river and destroyed a lot of the bridges. The houses in Angeles got a lot of the ash flow and the buildings in Clark had the same thing but they never drowned with lahar. Although the neighboring places, most of the churches and half of the homes have submerged and covered with lahar.

Angeles City is in a higher elevation and even if a typhoon passes over the city, it survives devastation.

By anon336858 — On May 31, 2013

What did the government do to protect the people living around the volcano?

By anon336194 — On May 27, 2013

What type of food do farmers grow on Mount Pinatubo?

By anon328981 — On Apr 07, 2013

Why does Mount Pinatubo have a lake in it?

By anon313405 — On Jan 11, 2013

What type of rock/magma type is Pinatubo associated with?

By anon242162 — On Jan 22, 2012

I need help on my homework. What are the main causes and what effects did it have on the world?

By anon218747 — On Sep 30, 2011

how was mount pinatubo formed?

By anon125402 — On Nov 09, 2010

How would have the effects of Mount Pinatubo's eruption been different if it were in a richer country, say the USA? This is important as I need it for tomorrow's Geography homework 1st period. Thanks!

By anon30431 — On Apr 19, 2009

What action was taken in the days immediately after the disaster by local, national and international government and aid agencies?

By anon21210 — On Nov 12, 2008

i really need this today for my homework. Does anyone know where i can find a site that will help me write a paragraph about the effects Mt Pintubo eruption had afterwards? A mudslide and something else right? Mt Vesuvius history also interests me. Big Thanks!

By anon10705 — On Apr 01, 2008

is the mountain a shield volcano?

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