Paektu (aka Changbai)

Mount Paektu (known also as Changbai or Baitoushan) is a stratovolcano whose large summit crater is bisected by the border between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (aka North Korea) and China. Within the 5 km wide and 850 km deep caldera sits the waters of Heaven Lake, a tourist attraction from both the Korean and Chinese sides and an important cultural icon to both countries. The caldera was formed around 969 AD ± 20 years during the so-called millennial eruption, which was one of the largest volcanic eruptions to occur on Earth within the last 2,000 years. Volcanic ash from this eruption has been found as far away as the southern part of Hokkaidō, Japan.

In 2011, experts in North and South Korea met to discuss the potential for a significant eruption in the near future, as minor activity has been documented at Paektu every 100 years or so, the last time being in 1903. This prompted the recent collaboration between the United Kingdom (represented by Clive Oppenheimer of CVG), the United States, and North Korea to construct a modern seismic network on the volcano. For now, Paektu remains largely unmonitored, as only minimal equipment is set up on the Chinese side and none whatsoever is in place on the North Korean side.

Key references:
Horn, S. & Schmincke, H.U. 2000. Volatile emission during the eruption of Baitoushan Volcano (China/North Korea) ca. 969 AD DOI: 10.1007/s004450050004

CVG expert:
Clive Oppenheimer
Kayla Iacovino