Mount Peaktu is an active stratovolcano and the highest mountain of the Changbai and Baekdudagan mountains, located on the Sino-North Korean border. Koreans attribute the mythical quality to the volcano and its Caldera lake, considering it the spiritual home of their country, and the mountain plays an important cultural role in the Korean states, which is mentioned in both their national anthems and is depicted on the coat of arms of North Korea. Korea. In the caldera at the top of the mountain is a large crater, called Lake of Heaven, which was formed by the eruption of the “millennium” from 946, which sent to heaven about 30 cubic kilometers of tephra in one of the largest and strongest eruptions in 5,000 years.
The volcano has been silent since its last major eruption, until 2002, when there was an earthquake in the volcano caused by several years.
Although calmed down again after 2005, brief activity worried the North Korean authorities and forced them to lift their policy of isolation and secrecy.
They contacted neighboring countries, including China, and contacted top scientists in Western countries for technical assistance in studying the volcano.
This information led to a rare collaboration in 2013 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.
Although Kim Jong-un still suffers from a dispute with the West, the North Korean government has granted 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 eruption.
The results of the study were published in the journal Science Advances in April 2016 and could be bad news for Kim and Chinese President Xi Jinping in the future.
Data collected by experts showed that Mount Paektu was still active and could break out.
However, scientists said they would like to return to North Korea to conduct more detailed studies to improve their ability to predict when and how a volcano could erupt.
READ MORE: China fears: Scientists warn extinct volcano to “recharge” for 500,000 years
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), seismologist Kayla Iacovina, co-author of the 2016 study, data collected during two years of observing Mount Paektu suggests the presence of partially molten magma in the volcano.
This suggested to scientists that the volcano was still active and could erupt in the future.
Ms Iacovino said: “This species confirms the idea that the volcano is quite active.
“But how much of it is eruptible?” That is a big question. “
Seismologist Stephen Grand at the University of Texas at Austin told National Geographic: “I think the risk of a destructive eruption is very real here.”
The data collected by Mr. Hammond and his team was reliable, said seismologist George Zandt of the University of Arizona, and the results, while not particularly surprising, are informative.
Scientists say it is too early to determine whether a future eruption is certain, but warned of the possibility.
Ms Iacovino added: “It could certainly affect, for example, international trade routes and commercial air transport.”