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El Chichón Eruption (1982)

  • By: Kristin Stevens
  • In: Encyclopedia of Disaster Relief
  • Edited by: K. Bradley Penuel & Matt Statler
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Policy (general)

In 1982, the El Chichón volcano erupted in Chiapas, Mexico, killing 2,000 people. It was the worst volcanic disaster in Mexico's recorded history.

Very little was known about this volcano, with few geological studies and little to no monitoring of activity. The eruptions were therefore a surprise to both scientists as well as government officials. Small earthquakes were felt in the region, causing the Chiapas government to request help from the federal government. The actions of all levels of government were slow, and no help was made available until after the eruptions were over.

Three powerful eruptions occurred over a one-week period beginning March 28 and ending April 4, 1982. The impact was felt in both Chiapas and the neighboring state of Tabasco. The initial eruption ...

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