One of the biggest surprises during the last decade of the 20th century is the volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the island of Luzon in the Philippines. The eruption of this volcano created one of the largest mushroom clouds in history. Here are some of the most interesting geographical facts about this geological formation.
1.) Mount Pinatubo, in Central Luzon, is an active stratovolcano. It is located in the tripoint Tri-Cabusilan Mountain Range of Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales provinces.
2.) From the arrival of the Spaniards in 15665 up to 1991, the mountain has no recorded historical eruptions.
3.) Prior to the explosive eruption, Mount Pinatubo was covered with dense forest and is home to thousands of Aetas who had fled to the mountains from the lowlands during the Spanish colonization.
4.) Mount Pinatubo’s eruption in June 1991 produced the second largest terrestrial eruption of the 20th century after the 1912 eruption of Novarupta in the Alaska Peninsula.
5.) The Gigantic explosion of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 had a Volcanic Explosivity Index or VEI of 6 which corresponds to 10 to 100 cubic km of released material.
6.) After the colossal eruption, the elevation of Mount Pinatubo dramatically decreased from 1,745 meters to 1,485 meters.
7.) Several thousands of people living around the vicinity of the volcano evacuated saving many lives but the surrounding areas were severely damaged.
8.) Mount Pinatubo released up to 16 cubic km of ash where thousands of houses, structures and other buildings were destroyed.
9.) The explosion of Mount Pinatubo brought poverty to thousands of Aetas and residents of Pampanga, Tarlac and Zambales.
10.) Thousands of dislocated Aetas turned to begging as a means of livelihood because relief goods delivered in evacuation centers were not enough.
11.) The effects of Mount Pinatubo’s eruption were felt worldwide. The volcano ejected about 10 billion metric tonnes or 10 cubic kilometers of magma, 20 million tons of SO2 and large amounts of aerosol.
12.) There were about 30,000 people who lived on the flanks of the volcano in about 25 villages called barangays.
13.) The dense jungle covering most of the mountain and surrounding peaks supported the hunter-gathering Aetas while areas with abundant rainfall were utilized for planting staple crop such as rice and others.
14.) There are 3 other volcanoes in the area where Mount Pinatubo lies namely: Mount Cuadrado, Mount Negron and Mountt Tayawan.
15.) With the removal of large amount of material from the volcano’s underlying magma chamber led to the formation of a large caldera named Lake Pinatubo. The caldera was filled with water by monsoon rains several months after the climatic eruption. Lake Pinatubo is now a fast growing tourist destination in the area. It can be reach via Capas, Tarlac.
16.) According to experts, the July 16, 1990 earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 that struck Central Luzon triggered the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. The epicenter of the tremor was in Rizal, Nueva Ecija which is 100 km away from Mt. Pinatubo.
17.) The ash cloud from Mount Pinatubo covered an area of some 125,000 km² brought total darkness to much of central Luzon. Almost all of the islands received some ashfall
18.) Ashfall from the eruption of Mount Pinatubo was recorded as far away as Cambodia, Malaysia and Vietnam.
19.) During the climactic eruption of Mount Pinatubo on June 15, 1991, at least sixteen commercial aircraft made damaging encounters with the ash cloud ejected.
20.) More than 800 people were killed by the volcano’s eruption. Most of the casualties were due to collapsed of roofs that accumulated wet ash.
21.) A total area of 150 km² reforestation area worth P125 million pesos were destroyed, 800 km² of rice-growing farmland were destroyed and about 800,000 head of livestock and poultry were killed which was estimated to be P1.5 billion pesos.
22.) Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay from Zambales named his C-47 presidential plane “Mount Pinatubo”. Unfortunately, the plane crashed in 1957 and killed the president and 24 others on board.
23.) Some 7,000 Aeta families from Zambales were officially granted in January 2010 the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) covering the Zambales side of Pinatubo which includes the summit and Lake Pinatubo. The ancestral domain title covers 15,984 hectares
24.) Some 454 Aeta families in Pampanga were given ancestral land ownership on Mount Pinatubo with the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) in May 2009. The ancestral domain title covers 7,440.1 hectares.
25.) Huge amount of minerals and metals were brought to the surface by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo – 800 tons of mercury, 100,000 ton of lead, 1,000 tons of cadmium, 10,000 tons of arsenic, 800,000 tons of zinc, 600,000 tons of copper, 300,000 tons of nickel and 550,000 tons of chromium.