Seoul to Watch Mt. Baekdu for Signs of Eruption

The Korea Meteorological Administration announced plans on Wednesday to use the Cheollian weather satellite to monitor volcanic activity on Mt. Baekdu on the North Korea-China border to deal with a possible eruption.

Mt. Baekdu has been dormant since 1903. "Unlike Japan or Indonesia, which see frequent volcanic eruptions since they lie on the fault line between tectonic plates, Mt. Baekdu lies in the Eurasian plate, so it is difficult to accurately forecast an eruption," said Yoon Sung-hyo, a geologist at Pusan National University. "To predict an eruption, we need to precisely monitor the growth, flow and speed of magma."

The Chonji lake on the top of Mt. Baekdu /Yonhap The Chonji lake on the top of Mt. Baekdu /Yonhap

The KMA will begin next month monitoring volcanic activity on Mt. Baekdu and surrounding areas using the weather satellite, which was launched in June. "By analyzing satellite photos of the lake on top of Mt. Baekdu, we will be able to monitor pre-earthquake signs, such as changes in water temperature," a KMA official said. The agency also plans to set up a listening post near the Demilitarized Zone by the end of this year that can detect volcanic activity.

Korean meteorological officials also plan to use 19 broadband earthquake detection networks to listen to minor quakes near Mt. Baekdu, while stepping up cooperation with their counterparts in China and Japan, which have already set up earthquake detection networks near the mountain.

Lee Hyun of the KMA said, "At present, the chances of Mt. Baekdu erupting are very slim, but if it does happen, the debris and overflowing waters of the Chonji lake on top of the mountain would inevitably cause damage to China and North Korea, and the precision manufacturing industries of Japan and Korea could be indirectly affected by the ashes from the explosion."

englishnews@chosun.com / Mar. 03, 2011 11:05 KST