Mt. PinatuboThe sulphur dioxide volcanoes release combines with water to form sulfuric acid which is a component of acid rain. The concentration of sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere can have serious implications for fish, trees, and other organisms.

Track SO2 emissions from Mt. Pinatubo following its eruption in 1991.

  1. Locate Mt. Pinatubo in the atlas and discuss its location relative to other active volcanoes.
  2. Using satellite imagery of the area immediately after the eruption, determine areas of high sulphur dioxide concentration.
  3. Examine the same area several days later. What happened to the concentration of sulphur dioxide? Why? Which way do you think the wind was blowing? You can also use NIH Image to animate the images as outlined in this activity.
  4. Examine a global image of sulphur dioxide concentration several weeks after the eruption. What has happened to the sulphur dioxide from Mt. Pinatubo? What are the potential implications of the spread of sulphur dioxide following the eruption?
  5. What would be the effect of a volcanic eruption at one of the poles? Would you expect a similar distribution of sulphur dioxide and other particulate matter? Why or why not?

Materials

  • atlas
  • images from NASA's TOMS satellite