Growing fears that North Korea’s infamous volcano will soon erupt

Thursday, May 3, 2012
By Paul Martin
May 3, 2012

North Korea – There is growing concern about a possible eruption of Mt. Baekdu. The two Koreas remain at odds in everything. But they are one in voicing how to counter the possible volcanic explosion of the highest mountain in the Korean Peninsula. Inter-Korean anxiety is mounting, with growing apocalyptic predictions on the dormant volcano. A South Korean geological expert has warned that the volcano could erupt sometime around 2014 and 2015. Former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il reportedly said people in some regions of Yanggang and North Hamgyeong Provinces were feeling anxiety over a volcanic eruption of Mt. Baekdu. Kim called for quick countermeasures by the North Korean authorities. If a volcano, located on the border between North Korea and China erupts, damage could be 10 to 100 times greater than that caused by the April 2010 eruptions in Iceland. Experts predict that the ashes would not only hit the neighboring area but damage agriculture and cause serious disruptions in industrial activities and air flights. The Korean Peninsula, China, Japan and Russia would be severely damaged. A volcanic eruption begins when pressure on a magma chamber forces magma up through the conduit and out the volcano’s vents. When the magma chamber is completely filled, the type of eruption partly depends on the amount of gas and silica in the magma. The amount of silica determines how sticky (level of viscosity) the magma is and water provides the explosive potential of steam. Fears of a Mt. Baekdu eruption loom large with ensuing warnings based on a series of geological studies from experts. A growing number of scholars have not ruled out the possibility of another eruption, linking the collapse of Korea’s ancient kingdom, Balhae, with the previous one. One theory comes from Professor Hiroshi Machida of Tokyo Metropolitan University. Machida first presented a view in 1992 that the eruption of Mt. Baekdu (Mt. Changbai in Chinese) led to the fall of Balhae, which had expanded its sovereignty to the vast Manchuria territory. His theory was based on volcanic ash found in Tomakomai, a port city in southern Hokkaido, in 1981. The ash was named “Baekdu-Tomakomai volcanic ash” (B-Tm) after Mt. Baekdu and Tomakakomi city where it was found, according to So Won-ju who wrote the book “Secret of Mt. Baekdu’s Great Eruption.” Machida’s theory has gained momentum as an increasing number of geologists and climate change researchers have presented views that the ash was produced in the eruption of the highest mountain in the Korean Peninsula in the 10th century. The eruption of the 2,744 meter-high mountain was billed as the largest in the history of mankind and was about 50 times stronger than that of Mt. Vesuvius of Italy in 79 A.D. which led to the burying and destruction of the Roman city Pompeii. –Korean Times

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