The Mount Paektu Research Centre is hosted within the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at Birkbeck, University of London. It hosts international research collaborations that has to date involved scientists and others from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the UK, Germany and other EU countries, China and USA. Since 2011, it has carried out field and laboratory studies concerning the environment, volcanology and underlying structure of Mt. Paektu (known as Changbaishan in China).
A brief history:
September 2011 – A group of scientists and ecologists are invited by DPRK organisations to visit Mt. Paektu Volcano to discuss the impacts a future eruption may have on the unique ecology and environment of the area. This included James Hammond & Clive Oppenheimer, who became the first volcanologists to visit the monitoring stations run by DPRK scientists at Mt. Paektu. During this trip the Mount Paektu Geoscientific Group (MPGG) was formed together with founding members, Richard Stone (American Association for the Advancement of Science) and Kosima Weber Liu (Environmental Education Media Project). The themes for joint research proposals were developed.
August 2013 – Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Royal Society, London, Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP) and the Pyongyang International Information Centre for New Technology and Economy (PIINTEC). This allowed us to deploy 6 seismometers for 2 years and collect over 100 geological samples from historic eruptions of the volcano.
October 2013 – A second field season on Mt. Paektu to service the seismometers.
August 2014 – A third field season to service seismometers and carry out further geological studies.
February 2015 – A visit to the UK by 4 DPRK scientists for 1 month to conduct analysis of the seismic data and study the geological samples.
August 2015 – Our final field season to remove the seismometers and collect more geological samples.
March 2016 – We publish our first scientific paper, led by DPRK seismologist Ri Kyong-Song.
August 2016 – We, along with PIINTEC organise a large international workshop on Mt. Paektu Volcano at the Pyongyang Palace of Science and Technology. This meeting included scientists from UK, China, Germany, Canada, US and DPRK discussed goals for future scientific collaboration.
September 2016 – We publish an article in Science & Diplomacy led by James Hammond from Birkbeck, University of London detailing the history of the project and lessons learned in setting up this collaboration.
October 2016 – Our project is featured in a new Netflix documentary, Into the Inferno. The movie is co-directed and stars MPRC member Clive Oppenheimer.
December 2016 – We another scientific paper, led by USGS scientist Kayla Iacovino (now at Arizona State University).
January 2017 – Our new scientific paper is published, a collaboration with scientists from China led by Clive Oppenheimer from University of Cambridge.
July 2017 – A focussed planning meeting at the Royal Society, London attended by 2 Chinese, 7 DPRK and many UK volcanologists to develop new proposals for funding for new ambitious projects to study Mt Paektu.
June 2018 – James Hammond is invited to present the project at the Jeju Forum, Republic of Korea.
September 2018 – James Hammond is invited to present at the Kim Chaek University of Technology 70th anniversary conference in Pyongyang.
November 2018 – A new paper, led by Amy Donovan from University of Cambridge is published.
December 2018 – A new paper, is published in collaboration with colleagues from the China Earthquake Administration.
April 2019 – A new paper, led by Amy Donovan from University of Cambridge is published.
May 2019 – UK and DPRK members of our collaboration are invited to give a keynote seminar by the Royal Society of London.
June 2019 – A new paper, is published in collaboration with colleagues from Russia, US and the Republic of Korea.
January 2020 – We publish an article in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems led by James Hammond from Birkbeck, University of London together with colleagues from the China Earthquake Administration and Earthquake Administration, DPRK.
February 2020 – The Mount Paektu Research Centre (MPRC) is established within the Department of Earth and Planetary Science, Birkbeck, University of London.