China Downplays Risk of Mt. Baekdu Eruption

      November 19, 2010 10:19

      China says the chances of Mt. Baekdu erupting in the near future are "near zero." The remarks came amid warnings from experts that the volcano on the border between North Korea and China could erupt in a few years.

      Yin Chaomin, the deputy chief of the China Seismological Bureau, was speaking Wednesday on Jeju Island during a meeting on seismological cooperation between Korea, China and Japan. "Recently, the [Baekdu] volcano has been more stable than ever," the Korea Meteorological Administration quoted him as saying.

      According to the KMA, the Chinese presented two reasons to back up their argument.

      Based on observation of Mt. Baekdu's volcanic activities since 1997, they believe that the frequency of earthquakes near the mountain has decreased significantly since 2006, and that the volcano is stable, the agency said.

      And an increase in seismic activity near the mountain between 2002 and 2005 is not sufficient to jump to conclusions about volcanic eruption, the agency added.

      A KMA official said, "Some experts in China have said that Mt. Baekdu could erupt in 2014 or 2015, but the China Seismological Bureau has formally announced that there is no scientific evidence for the claim."

      However, the KMA decided to build a cooperative system with the Chinese agency to share seismic observation data.

      Some Chinese and Japanese scientists have warned of an eruption based on their observation of hundreds of small quakes near the mountain since June 2002.

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