the Philippines


Manila, Luzon




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Mount Pinatubo

Mount Pinatubo is situated in the southern part of Luzon. It is one of the biggest volcanoes in the Philippines. In 1991, the Pinatubo became in a few months one of the most known volcanoes in the world. In that year the Pinatubo erupted violently.

More than 700 people were killed. Huge masses of volcanic material** flew out of the crater and covered in a few days an area of more than 400 kmē. At the beginning of the eruption enormous ash clouds***  were blasted out  into the air.


Ashcloud over Mt. Pinatubo

The eruption in 1991

At first there were earthquakes, small explosions and emissions of steam and minor ash. The earthquakes and emissions continued and  increased. After more than 2 months of increasing activity, strong explosions culminated in one of the largest eruptions of this century. During more than 15 hours, volcanic ash plumes went straight up  to 30 km altitude into the sky. The ash plumes spread out in the air in the days after the first explosions. Within ten days, the cloud formed a nearly continuous band that stretched 11.000 kilometres from Southeast Asia to Central Africa!

Left picture: Courtesy of 

US Geological Survey  

University of Washington

The Pinatubo and the caldera, 

just after the big explosion in 1991

The summit of the volcano collapsed!


The violent explosion on the 15th  of June in 1991 broke away a big part of the top of the Pinatubo*. The summit of the volcano collapsed into the under laying magma chamber. The result was an enormous depression, the caldera, with a 2.5 kilometre diameter! 

The new summit of the volcano was 145 meters lower than before the explosion.


Right picture: Courtesy of 

US Geological Survey University of Washington

The landscape around the Pinatubo after the explosions of 1991

Parts of the landscape  can give you now easy the feeling to be on another planet.  For the richer tourists there are

good possibilities for a amazing scenery seen from the air by making an roundtrip by small airplanes above the area.


*    The Pinatubo is, like Mount Mayon, a strato volcano. This type of volcano is steep-sided and composed of alternating layers (layer = strata)

      of lava and other volcanic material, especially volcanic ash.

**   Pyroclastic flows (flows with mixtures of hot, dry rock fragments and hot gases.

      They result from the explosive eruption of molten or solid rock fragments, or  both)  

*** Tephra (fragments of volcanic rock and lava regardless of size, which are blasted into the air by explosions or carried upward by hot gases)


Made by Bobbie Myers, U.S. Geological Survey

Animation of an eruption

'Ring of fire' around the world

Volcanic hazards

Ash cloud eight days after the big eruption 

Detailed history of the 1991 eruption

Questions and answers

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