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Friday Flotsam: Plume images and a restless (?) North Korean volcano

Lots of great shots of volcanoes from space and North Korea’s potentially restless giant.

This week went fast, didn’t it?

The Baekdu caldera along the North Korean/Chinese border.

  • The NASA Earth Observatory have been giving us a steady diet of volcanic plumes over the last week, including PNG’s Ulawun, Russia’s Sarychev Peak (a very faint plume), both an ASTER and Terra image of the summit region at Kliuchevskoi and finally a mix of plume and clouds over PNG’s Manam volcano.
  • I wanted to also mention a brief article I ran into on the Changbaishan/Baekdu caldera along the Chinese and North Korean border. Although short on specifics, this article mentions a number of interesting (and potentially odd/wrong) things: (1) Baekdu is showing signs of “becoming active” – this is the first I’ve heard of that, but the article does mention increased seismicity, inflation of 10 cm since 2002 and an increase in surface temperature; (2) the North Korean government is creating “comprehensive countermeasures” in case of an eruption – I have no idea what this means, it almost suggests they want to come up with ways to stop the eruption, which is ridiculous; (3) that the recent North Korean underground nuclear test might have had an effect on the magmatic system at Baekdu – and this strikes me as 100% pure speculation. The volcano has a caldera lake at the top, known to the Chinese as the “Lake of Heaven” and a Korean-speaking population living around the edifice. If Baekdu were to erupt, it would be a very large problem for North Korea’s already teetering economy and government – the eruptions tends to be explosive with the last coming in 1903. However, Baekdu/Changbaishan did likely produce a VEI 7 eruption ~1000 A.D., meaning any activity at the volcano should be closely monitored (which could be difficult with its location on the Chinese-North Korean border).

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