Group photo from the International Seminar on Mt. Paektu, Pyongyang, August 2016

The Mt. Paektu Geoscientific Group (MPGG) is an international research collaboration 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 the UNESCO world heritage site of Mt. Paektu 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 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.

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.

September 2018 – James Hammond is invited to present at the Kim Chaek University of Technology 70th anniversary conference in Pyongyang.