A mysterious volcano has sparked a very unlikely collaboration between North Korean and Western scientists. Mount Paektu (or Changbaishan in China) stands on the border between North Korea, and China is well-known for recording one of the biggest eruptions in recent history. Now, it has started to tremble once more.
The newly recorded tremors have led to a huge study of international proportions. The team involves North Korean, Chinese and Western scientists that have deployed no less than six seismometers on the side belonging to North Korea. They published the first paper on the matter in the Science Advances journal last Friday.
James Hammond, co-author of the study and seismologist from the Birkbeck College of the University of London, has stated that
“To understand a volcano, you need to look at it from all sides. It’s the first glimpse of the volcano on the Korean side. It gives us a much better picture of what’s going on beneath the volcano.”
Mount Paektu is renowned for its eruption in 946 AD when it sent rocks and debris flying over hundreds of miles. Its volcanic ash went as far as Japan. The explosion was named the “Millenium Explosion” and is rated as seven on the index of volcanic explosivity. On this scale, anything rated eight or higher is sure to determine devastation on a worldwide scale.
The nine-thousand-foot mountain started to tremble once more in 2002 determining officials to seek more knowledge on it. Surprisingly, it was North Korea that invited volcanologists from Britain and China to conduct the research. According to geologist R. Laurence Davis from the University of New Haven, Connecticut, our planet does not take human borders into consideration at all.
The six seismometers were placed two years ago and had since then recorded any motion taking place beneath Mount Paektu. The devices allowed scientists to find that the rocks located under the volcano are not entirely solid. It appears there is an area of partial melt situated in the crust, according to Dr. Hammond.
However, this does not mean the volcano is ready to erupt yet. There might be plenty more space for the magma to fill before it is sent to the surface. Mount Paektu is known as an anomaly because most volcanoes are formed on the frontier of tectonic plates. However, this is not the case of the border between China and North Korea.
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