We made a visit to the location of one of the world’s most powerful volcanic eruption sites, in history.
Changbaishan (sometimes referred to as Baitoushan), also known as Tianchi, or in Korean as Baegdu or P’aektu-san, is relatively poor known, primarily due to its remote location. The Changbaishan volcano is a large stratovolcano at the North Korean and North East China border and has been classified as China’s most active volcano.
One of the world’s largest explosive eruptions occurred around 969 +/- 20 AD and is known as the Baitoushan eruption. Forming part of the modern-day caldera, the eruption produced *rhyolitic and *trachytic pumice and ash fall as far as the northern parts of Japan.
This caldera consists out of a 5km wide and 850m deep summit, now occupied by a beautiful scenic lake called Lake Tianchi, or as locals refer to it; “Heavenly Lake”. The volcano has a massive diameter of 60km and is composed predominantly of trachytic and rhyolitic lavas, overlying an older shield volcano.
Since the 969 +/- 20 AD eruption, small eruptions have been recorded, with the last small explosion being in the April of 1903. The deposits of the 1903 explosion are visible on both the southern and eastern slopes of the volcano.
Changbaishan is still monitored by geologists today, but is also enjoyed by many tourists as a popular tourist visiting site.
One of the tourist attractions at Changbaishan is the Changbai Mountain Grand Waterfall, which serves as an outlet at the north end of Tianchi. With a height of about 68 meters, its roar can be heard 200 meters afar, since trails leading up to the waterfall are closed for safety concerns and environmental protection. However, the waterfall remains spectacular even at a distance, as it is surrounded by uniquely colored volcanic rocks.
A must-mention, and to the pride of locals, are the Julong hot springs at Changbaishan with steam that rises from the water hot enough to boil an egg.
As we spent our time at the caldera and made our stops at the tourist hotspots, I’m in awe of the power and possibility contained within the mountainous volcanic rocks surrounding me, concluding that beauty can be created from chaos…
*Rhyolitic – a very acidic rock, being the lava form of granite.
*Trachytic pumice – a grey fine-grained volcanic rock consisting of alkali feldspar, with highly vesicular rough textured volcanic glass, which possibly contains crystals