Research ArticleSeismology

Evidence for partial melt in the crust beneath Mt. Paektu (Changbaishan), Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and China

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Science Advances  15 Apr 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 4, e1501513
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501513

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Mt. Paektu (also known as Changbaishan) is an enigmatic volcano on the border between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and China. Despite being responsible for one of the largest eruptions in history, comparatively little is known about its magmatic evolution, geochronology, or underlying structure. We present receiver function results from an unprecedented seismic deployment in the DPRK. These are the first estimates of the crustal structure on the DPRK side of the volcano and, indeed, for anywhere beneath the DPRK. The crust 60 km from the volcano has a thickness of 35 km and a bulk VP/VS of 1.76, similar to that of the Sino-Korean craton. The VP/VS ratio increases ~20 km from the volcano, rising to >1.87 directly beneath the volcano. This shows that a large region of the crust has been modified by magmatism associated with the volcanism. Such high values of VP/VS suggest that partial melt is present in the crust beneath Mt. Paektu. This region of melt represents a potential source for magmas erupted in the last few thousand years and may be associated with an episode of volcanic unrest observed between 2002 and 2005.

  • Volcano
  • Partial melt
  • receiver function
  • Seismology
  • crust

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