North Korea could accidentally trigger an eruption on a volcano named Mount Paektu, a volcanologist and science journalist wrote in Forbes Wednesday.
“According to a separate study conducted over the last couple of years, the country’s underground weapons tests are sending powerful pressure waves towards Paektu’s massive magma chamber,” writes Robin Andrews. “This pressure is essentially being transferred to the magma, and at a certain point, it could cause the rock surrounding the partly liquid doom to crack, and thereby trigger an eruption.”
North Korea has sought for decades to have the ability to hit a major American city with a nuclear weapon and is speeding toward that goal with advances in its intercontinental ballistic missile program.
Leader Kim Jong Un has test-fired two ICBM missiles in July, and North Korea in early August disclosed plans to fire missiles over Japan to land near the U.S. Pacific territory.
But North Korea would need to detonate a hydrogen bomb in order to “send the magma chamber into overpressure,” at Paektu writes Andrews. “This more complex two-step device, one which uses a fission (splitting) reaction in a primary bomb component to compress a heavy hydrogen core (fusion) in a secondary component.”