Kunlun Volcano | John Seach


Ashikule Volcano Group
Tibet, China

35.510 N, 80.185 E
summit elevation 5808 m
pyroclastic cones

Kunlun is the highest volcano in the northern hemisphere.
It is 130 m higher than Mt Damavand in Iran.

Kunlun Volcano is located in Tibet. Part of the volcanic field is located in an area claimed by India called "Askai Chin".

Kunlun volcano features in the Chinese story of Monkey King.
"She smelted stones to mend the heavens to save the world. When she came to the crack at the base of Kunlun Mountain, she found this crimson-gold gourd growing on a tendril of immortal vine and passed it to Laozi for safekeeping". Quote from book Monkey King by Wu Cheng 'en 2021 p 227.

Ashikule Volcano Group
Ashikule basin covers an area of 700 sq km, with an average elevation of 4700 m above sea level. The basin is surrounded by mountains in the shape of an arc. The volcanic group contains 70 pyroclastic cones and basaltic lava flows. Ashi Shan volcano in the western end of the group is the youngest volcano in China (also known as Ka-er-daxi or Vulkan).

Three salt lakes in the basin are, Ashikule, Wulukekule, and Shagesikule. Fourteen main volcanoes and 10 smaller ones are located in the lakes and surrounding area. There sites have erupted 200 sq km of lava and form the Ashikule Volcano Group.

The Ashikule Volcano Group contains some of the highest eruption centres in the world. Their relative height is not great, but thay are formed at a high elevation.

Xi Shan
This is the westernmost volcano of Ashikule Volcano Group. The volcano is located in the desert south of Liuhuang pass. It is a flat hillock with a height of 25-30 m and a base diameter of 500 m.

Dahei Shan
This is the largest eruption centre in the Ashikule Volcano Group. Its summit is 5104 m with a relative elevation of 400 m. A volcanic ridge extends several kilometres southwest and southeast.

The cone is located northwest of Wuluke Lake. It has a relative height of 80 m and a basal diameter of 300 m.

Migong Shan
The crater is located adjacent to Wuluke cone. It has the form of a dustpan open to the west. The crater wall is 80 m high in the east and 30 m high in the west. The crater floor is 150 m x 50 m.

Yueya Shan
This cone is located 5 km from Wuluke cone. It contains a 300 m long crescent crater which is 60 m high.

Maoniu Shan
This is located adjacent to Yueya Shan. It is a flat hillock 50 m high and 150 m wide at the top. A volcanic cluster of about 10 centres are located around Yueya Shan and Maoniu Shan.

Heilong Shan
The volcanic feature consists of a ridge extending 10 km in an east-west orientation. It is 30-70 m high and 400-500 m wide.

2008 Kunlun Earthquake
A magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit the area on 21st March 2008.

1951 Eruption
The eruption of Kunlun volcano on 5th July 1951 was the mostrecent eruption in China. The eruption was located at Ashi Shan volcano. The vent is located on a lava plateau south of Ashikule Lake. Its height is 120 m with a basal diameter of 350 m, and a summit crater 50 m deep. It was a central vent explosive eruption witnessed by soldiers building a road.Kunlun volcano erupted with a tremendous roar and smoke column. It continued to emit smoke for several days.

Kunlun Fault
Kunlun Mountain Range

Further reading
Yuan, C., Sun, M., Zhou, M.F., Xiao, W. and Zhou, H., 2005. Geochemistry and petrogenesis of the Yishak Volcanic Sequence, Kudi ophiolite, West Kunlun (NW China): implications for the magmatic evolution in a subduction zone environment. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology150(2), pp.195-211.

Jiaqi, L.I.U. and TANIGUCHI, H., 2002. Active volcanoes in China. Northeast Asian Studies6, pp.173-189.

Huadong, G., Jingjuan, L., Changlin, W., Chao, W., Farr, T.G. and Evans, D.L., 1997. Use of multifrequency, multipolarization shuttle imaging radar for volcano mapping in the Kunlun Mountains of western China. Remote Sensing of Environment59(2), pp.364-374.

Kunlun Volcano Eruptions

1951, 1850? ± 50
Eruption of Kunlun Volcano produced emission of ash and bombs.