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VIRTUAL EVENT - GSL Public Lecture: Engaging geoscience for diplomacy – understanding Paektu volcano in North Korea

09 November 2020
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Event type:
Lecture, Virtual event
Organised by:
Geological Society Events
Virtual event
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Mount Paektu is an active volcano which straddles the international border between China and North Korea (DPRK: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). The so-called Millennium Eruption of the volcano in 946 CE was one of the largest eruptions in recorded history - ranking alongside Thera (Santorini, Greece), Taupo (New Zealand) and Tambora (Indonesia). However, its location has largely hampered study to date.

In 2002, earthquakes, ground deformation and gas release pointed to a reawakening of the volcano, initiating a drive to monitor and understand it. In an unprecedented collaboration, hailed as a landmark achievement in science diplomacy, an international team from North Korea, China, the US and the UK have been studying the volcano since 2011.

This involved the deployment of an array of seismometers to image the magma beneath the volcano and the collection of geological samples for analysis of past-erupted deposits. In this lecture, James will discuss the scientific highlights of this unique project, as well as exploring how geoscience is uniquely placed for this kind of science diplomacy.


This event will be virtual, with further information available soon. Registration is now open.

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James Hammond, Birkbeck - University of London

James is a Reader in Geophysics at Birkbeck, University of London. He received his PhD from the University of Leeds, and has spent time at the University of Bristol, Imperial College London and the University of Fukuoka (Japan).

His research is focused on geophysically imaging magma plumbing systems beneath volcanoes. He has worked on volcanoes all over the world, including a number which straddle international borders in regions undergoing significant political strain, such as Ethiopia-Eritrea and China-North Korea. Most recently he has led the Mt. Paektu Geoscientific Group (MPGG), a consortium of UK-North Korea-US scientists studying Mt. Paektu volcano.


The lecture will start at 6.00pm GMT.


This lecture will be virtual via Zoom. Further information will be provided to attendees prior to the event.


Please email with any enquiries.

Videos of past lectures can be viewed in our past meeting resources area.

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