Baitoushan Volcano | John Seach


Also known as Tianchi Volcano, Changbaishan, Baegdu or P'aektu-san (Paektusan).

North Korea/ China Border

41.98 N, 128.08 E
summit elevation 2744 m

Baitoushan Volcano is located in NE China - North Korea border.It is an intraplate volcano. It is considered a dangerous volcano due to its history of large explosive eruptions.

The magnitude of the 969 20 AD Baitoushan eruption lies between that of Tambora (1815 AD) with 87 cubic km magma and Krakatau (1883 AD) with 10 cubic km magma.

Lake Tianchi fills the 5 km wide caldera. There were possible gas emissions at Baitoushan Volcano in 1994. The eruption of Baitoushan volcano in 1054 was one of the largest eruptions in the world in the past 10,000 years.

The explosive eruption Billy Mitchell Volcano (Papua New Guinea, 1030 AD) competes with the Baitoushan eruption for the ice core data, therefore conclusive records on the effects on climate are not easily obtained.

2017 Nuclear explosion
On 3rd September 2017, North Korea detonated a nuclear explosion 105 km southeast of Baitoushan volcano. The explosion produced a magnitude 6.3 earthquake, which resulted in weak ground shaking at the volcano. Earthquakes of this magnitude have the ability to produce strong eruptions at nearby volcanoes.

2000-2006 Unrest
An increase in seismicity between 2002-06 accompanied by inflation of Baitoushan volcano, indicated the volcano has begun to wake after more than 100 years of inactivity.

1903 Eruption
The most recent eruption of Baitoushan in 1903 produced pink and white pumice and ash, some of which is visible on the eastern and southern slopes of the volcano. Paektusan (Baitoushan) Volcano has been quiet since 1903. Hot springs are located on the rims of the inner caldera, on the northern slope, and in the rift valley. The spring on the northern flank has a temperature of over 80C. The temperature has increased by a few degrees over the past few decades.

Eruption in 969 20
The 969 20 AD Plinian eruption of Baitoushan Volcano produced a total tephra volume of 96 19 cubic km. The eruption column reached 25 km altitude. The volcano erupted in two major phases associated with a change in magma composition from highly evolved to more mafic.

Phase 1. The bulk tephra volume (95 vol.%), erupted during the first phase, consists of Plinian and co-ignimbrite fallout and ignimbrites. Tephra fallout extended to Hokkaido (Japan) as far as 1200 km to the east-northeast. Pyroclastic flows associated with collapse of the Plinian eruption column extend more than 70 km from the crater. The tephra of phase I consists of white to gray, rhyolitic pumice.

Phase 2. Eruption materials from phase 2 consisted of dark trachytic pumice. The dark pumice lapilli are less vesicular than the white pumice from the first eruption phase.

Probability of Future Eruptions
The probability of a minor to moderate eruption in the next 100 years at Baitoushan volcano is estimated to be 1 in 5 to 1 in 10, based on historical data.

Further reading
Guo, Z., Liu, J., Sui, S., Liu, Q., He, H. and Ni, Y., 2002. The mass estimation of volatile emission during 1199–1200 AD eruption of Baitoushan volcano and its significance. Science in China Series D: Earth Sciences45(6), p.530.

Horn, S. and Schmincke, H.U., 2000. Volatile emission during the eruption of Baitoushan Volcano (China/North Korea) ca. 969 AD. Bulletin of Volcanology61(8), pp.537-555.

Dongman, X., Xiangshen, Z. and Xiangxi, X., 1993. Holocene volcanic activities and their features in Tianchi area, Changbaishan mountains. Quaternary Sciences1, pp.85-94.

Baitoushan Volcano Eruptions

1903, 1898, 1702, 1668, 1597, 1413, 969 20