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Korea, China to jointly explore Mt. Baekdu for possible eruption

Korea, China to jointly explore Mt. Baekdu for possible eruption

Posted April. 02, 2015 07:18,   


Geologists from Korea and China will jointly carry out on-site exploration of Mount Baekdu to prepare for its possible eruption. The two parties met on March 23 and 24 in Jeju Island and agreed to dig with drilling facility 10 kilometers down into the earth to closely examine the area including the state of magma flows. They also presented a 3D map blueprint covering an area 10,000 km³ beneath Mount Baekdu.

The Chinese government had established volcano observatory to monitor the mountain`s lake Cheonji, which remained an earth surface exploration. Mount Baekdu is the first mountain among major large volcanic mountains that have possibility of eruptions, where holes will be penetrated some kilometers down where magma is flowing. Iceland, a frequent volcano eruption region, previously dug down 2 kilometers underground in 2002 but failed to approach the magma core.

If Mount Baekdu erupts, the volcanic ashes will spread over the Northeast Asian region, hugely damaging not only Asia but also Europe. The latest Korea-China joint Mount Baekdu exploration project was agreed upon following China`s judgment that the eruption could have huge impact on the region`s security. The Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources had taken proceedings since 2013 to put the joint research deal through, including its signing of a memorandum of understanding last year with the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences.

Both parties will meet at lake Cheonji in July to decide the time of drilling, and will work on basic exploration until 2017. "We will dig down 7 kilometers of Mount Baekdu to explore the state of its underground very closely," said Lee Yoon-soo, a researcher at the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources. "There is possibility that we will directly bring up the liquid magma that reaches temperatures over 1,300 degrees Celsius."

"Korea has high geological understanding of the overall Asian region and also has high-tech exploration equipment, which can raise exploration success rate," said Jiaqi Liu, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences.

Korea plans to persuade Japan to join the exploration to expand to a Korea-China-Japan project. "In the academic circle, it is believed that Mount Baekdu was formed during the formation of the Japanese Archipelago," Lee said. "Eruption possibility of Mount Baekdu can be more accurately projected if the three countries do research jointly."