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China, North Korea fear: Why experts warn border volcano “may be ready to erupt” | Science News

Mount Peaktu is an active stratovolcano and the highest mountain in the Changbai and Baekdagad ranges, located on the Sino-North Korean border. Koreans attribute the mythical quality of the volcano and its lake to Caldera, believing it to be their country’s spiritual home, and the mountain plays an important cultural role in the Korean states mentioned in their two national anthems and is depicted on North Korea’s national emblem. A large crater, called Heavenly Lake, is located in the caldera of the mountaintop, formed by the Millennium eruption of 946, which sent about 30 cubic miles of tephra into the sky during one of the largest and most violent eruptions in recent years. 5000 years.

The volcano has been quiet since its last major eruption, until 2002, when there was a series of mini-earthquakes caused by seismic activity within the volcano for several years.

Although it fell silent again after 2005, the brief activity worried the North Korean authorities and forced them to cancel their policy of isolation and secrecy.

They reached out to neighboring countries, including China, and contacted the best scientists in Western countries and asked for technical assistance to study the volcano.

The scope led to a rare collaboration in 201

3 between a team of North Korean experts led by Ri Kyong-Song of the Pyongyang Earthquake Administration and a team of Western scientists led by James Hammond of the University of London.

Despite Kim Jong Un’s bitter feud with the West, the North Korean government has given a team of international scientists, including experts from the United Kingdom and the United States, access to North Korea to help local experts study the supervolcano and assess the risk of an eruption.

The results of the study were published in the journal Science Advances in April 2016 and may be bad news for Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping in the future.

The data collected by the experts show that Mount Paektu is still active and may erupt.

But scientists said they would like to return to North Korea to conduct more detailed research to improve their ability to predict when and how the volcano could erupt.

READ MORE: China fears: Scientists warn that volcano disappears in 500,000 years “seems to be charging”

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), seismologist Kayla Yakovina, who co-authored the 2016 study, data collected during two years of monitoring of Mount Paektu show the presence of partially molten magma in the volcano.

This shows researchers that the volcano is still active and may erupt in the future.

Ms. Yakovino said: “This species confirms the idea that the volcano is quite active.

But how many of it erupt? This is a big question. “

Seismologist Stephen Grand of the University of Texas at Austin told National Geographic: “I think the risk of a destructive eruption here is very real.”

The data that Mr. Hammond and his team have collected is solid, said seismologist George Zand of the University of Arizona, and the results, while not particularly surprising, are informative.

Scientists said it was too early to determine whether a future eruption was certain, but sent a warning about the possibility.

Ms Yakovino added: “This can certainly affect things like international trade routes and trade air traffic, at least.”

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