With jarring landscapes, dramatic canyons, and snaking rivers, formerly nondescript Mt. Pinatubo, is a sight to behold, its scenery much magnified taking into account its fairly recent turbulent history.
Before the 1991 eruption, scientists thought that the last recorded eruption of the volcano happened 450 years ago. However, the history of this mountain dates back to its predecessor, the ancestral Pinatubo whose remnants now surround the present volcano. The ancestral Pinatubo’s activity began 1.1 Million years ago, which ended sometime about 45,000 years ago. After 10,000 years of dormancy, modern Pinatubo was born in what was deemed to be the most explosive eruption in its history and deposited pyroclastic flow material 100 meters thick on all sides of the mountain – as much as 25 cubic kilometers of material ejected from its underlying magma chamber.
The Philippines is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, a region where large numbers of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur along the entire Pacific Coast. Pinatubo, is part of a chain of volcanoes on the western edge of Luzon and is part of the so-called subduction volcanoes- formed by the Philippine Plate sliding under the Eurasian Plate with the Manila Trench to the west. It goes without saying that the volcano lies on a very destructive plate boundary. The mountain is an active stratovolcano and is located about 3 hours north of Manila and sits on the Cabusilan Mountain Range on the intersecting borders of Zambales, Pampanga and Tarlac.
“Pinatubo” means “made grown” in Tagalog and the local dialect of the area, the Sambal and an indigenous group of hunter-gatherer people, the Aetas lived on the slopes of the mountain for centuries to escape the persecution of the lowlanders and the Spaniards.