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The summit crater lake of Mount Pinatubo has formed after its eruption on June 15, 1991. Before the volcanic activities, its eruptive history was unknown to most people. It has been theorized that the magnitude 7.7 earthquake in June 1990 with epicentre within 60 miles of the volcano may have something to do with awakening of the slumbering Mount Pinatubo. That led volcanologists to speculate that the quake set into motion some unseen geological events that culminated into the eruption of Mount Pinatubo one year later.

Three months before the eruption, people living near and around the area of Mount Pinatubo felt earthquakes of varying intensities. One month later, minor eruptions can be seen on the summit and volcanic activities continued to increase throughout the month of May. Finally, major eruptions started to occur starting June 6 as a prelude to the climactic eruption in June 15, which became the world's second biggest volcanic eruption in the 20th century. The column of ash from the eruption reached as high as 30 km into the atmosphere. The volcanic ash remained suspended for months reached as far as North America. The temperature around the world dropped to about an average of 0.6 degrees Celsius due to the ash that covered the Earth.

More than a million people were left homeless when Mount Pinatubo erupted. Because of early evacuation, there were relatively few casualties. It is considered as the world’s most violent and destructive volcanic event of the 20th century.

The volcanic activity in Mount Pinatubo gradually decreased through the years. The eruption blew away the dome of the volcano and left a crater that gradually accumulated rainwater forming a lake. There were concerns that the water in the lake will overflow and inundate the surrounding communities so the Philippine government ordered a controlled draining of the lake and had authorities dig a 5m-wide channel from the edge of the volcano's crater, draining about a quarter of the lake's volume and diverting the excess lake water into local rivers.

Prior to the eruption most Filipinos hardly knew anything about Mount Pinatubo. Lake Pinatubo has become a popular trekking and camping destination for both local and foreign tourists these days.

Experts believe that part of the Pagan folklore of the Aetas that was handed down through oral tradition, may actually be partly based on the last eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the 1500’s. An Aeta legend tells of Bacobaco, a sea creature with extraordinary powers who can transform into a giant turtle. One day, after an epic battle with a valiant spirit hunter, Bacobaco retreated to the summit of Mount Pinatubo, dug into the summit, and continuously hurled fire and brimstone from its mouth for three days to prevent the spirit hunter from reaching the summit.

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