The Mt. Paektu Geoscientific Project (2013 – 2020)

Summary: From 2013-2015 the MPGG  deployed 6 seismometers for 2 years and collected many geological samples from the Millennium Eruption and other eruptions.  The main aims were to image the magmatic system beneath the volcano and place constraints on the dynamics of the Millennium Eruption and other eruptions. We continue to work on these data through regular research visits in the UK and the DPRK.

Organisations involved:

  • Birkbeck, University of London
  • China Earthquake Administration
  • Earthquake Administration, DPRK
  • Kim Il Sung University
  • Pyongyang International Information Centre of New Technology and Economy (PIINTEC)
  • State Academy of Science, DPRK
  • University of Cambridge

Some highlights:

  • We have published a number of papers that are jointly authored with our DPRK and Chinese colleagues. Highlights include:
    • Providing the first absolute data for the ‘Millennium Eruption’ of Mount Paektu/Changbaishan
    • Imaging the crust and mantle beneath the volcano, including the first cross-border study of the volcano
    • Estimated the pre- and syn-eruptive fluid and total gas yield of the 946 CE eruption
    • We also published papers in the journalsScience and Diplomacy and  Geoscience documenting our project.
Figure from Hammond et al., 2020 showing a conceptual model of the magmatic system beneath Mt. Paektu/Changbaishan.
  • We assisted the Earthquake Administration (DPRK) in joining the World Organisation of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) (
  • We assisted the Earthquake Administration (DPRK) in joining the International Seismological Centre (ISC).
  • During a number of visits to the UK we organised workshop at the Royal Society (its first interaction with the DPRK in its history).  These have been attended by a wide section of the UK volcanology community, showcasing the progress of the project, and led to lively discussion of the volcanology of Mount Paektu.
  • We facilitated the visit of three DPRK scientists to the Changbaishan workshop in PRC in September 2015, which was also attended by US, UK, PRC and Republic of Korea scientists.
  • With PIINTEC, we organised and hosted a four-day-long international symposium on Mt Paektu, held at the newly-opened Science and Technology Complex in Pyongyang, in August 2016. This was attended by 12 international scientists (three Chinese, five British, two American, one Canadian, one German) and more than 40 DPRK scientists from the Earthquake Administration, State Academy of Sciences, and universities in Pyongyang.
  • Our project has received significant attention from the international media.
Participants for the 2016 workshop on Mount Paektu Volcano at the Science and Technology Complex, Pyongyang.