Paektu Volcano

Volcanological and geophysical research on Paektu volcano, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Mount Paektu (aka Paektusan, Changbaishan, Changbai, Baitoushan, Baekdu and Baegdu!) is a fascinating volcano straddling the border between DPRK (North Korea) and China. In fact the international frontier cuts right through the nearly 6-km-diameter summit crater, at an altitude of some 2700 m. It is curious in that its origins and tectonic associations remain unclear – it is located more than 1300 km away from the Japanese trench. It is also the site of one of the largest eruptions of the past few millennia – on a par with Santorini’s Minoan eruption and the 1815 outburst of Tambora on Sumbawa Island, Indonesia. The so-called “Millennium eruption” probably occurred in the 10th century CE, according to radiocarbon evidence and ash fallout covered much of the Korean peninsula, reaching as far as northern Japan (Horn and Schmincke, 2000).