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Case study Mount Pinatubo
Mount Pinatubo is on Philippine island of Luzon. The Philippines are on a volcanic island arc
and have over 30 active volcanoes across the islands where the Eurasian plate subducted the
Philippine plate. This means there is viscous( thick and sticky) leading to explosive eruptions. . Prior to
1991 Mount Pinatubo last erupted in 1380 and so local people started living around it as they were
sure it was safe. Many people farmed the slopes of the mountain because the ash from previous
eruptions meant the soil was fertile.
In June 1991 scientists noticed that the volcano was going to erupt this allowed them to
evacuate 15000 people American military bases on the island as well as many People from the near
by town. The main eruption of ash and lava destroyed crops, caused mud flows and the destroyed
200 000 homes as well as making roads impassable. This was because of the pyroclastic flow of ash
and debris laying down all the ash on the ground. The volcano was the 2nd largest of the 20th century
Longer term secondary effects.
The ash fall ruined the 1991 harvest and made planting impossible for the following year.
Over one million animals died meaning that local people were forced in refugee camps for aid, in the
camps major diseases spread quickly. A major killer was diarrhoea In 1993 heavy rains caused the
dried mud lakes from the eruption to turn to lahars (moving mud flows caused by the mixture of rain
and ash the can trap and suffocate people.
Overall around 700 deaths were caused by the event with most being as a result of illness
and suffocation and very few (less than ten) due to the actual eruption.
After the event
Many local people decided not to go back to their old homes like the some in the indigenous
Aeta tribe did because they thought that the volcano could erupt again and so it wasn't worth
moving everything back to be destroyed again.
They said they had nothing left in the area. However most of the tribe decided to return as
they did not want to live urban life in a city and all there ancestors had lived on the slopes on Mt
Pinatubo. Many people continued to live in tented towns for years afterwards
It is thought should the volcano erupt again scientists would be able to predict it again but in
future they can influence the weather to stop more deaths after the event.