15 April 2016
The crater atop Mount Paektu. Raymond Cunningham/Getty
If it blows again, it could make Vesuvius look like a tea party.
Now, in a ground-breaking collaboration between the West and North Korea, vulcanologists are gaining new insights into Mount Paektu, on North Korea’s border with China, and whether it might blow its top any time soon.
If it does, the outcome could be catastrophic. Paektu’s last eruption, a thousand years ago, is the second largest ever recorded, topped only by the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815.
“If it erupted, it would have impacts way beyond Korea and China,” says James Hammond of Birkbeck, University of London, one of the scientists involved.
In 946 AD, the eruption of Mount Paektu, Korea’s highest mountain, blasted 96 cubic kilometres of debris into the sky, 30 times more than the relatively puny 3.3 cubic kilometres…
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