The Ring of Fire is a major area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur. In a 40,000 km (25,000 mi) horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and/or plate movements. It has 452 volcanoes (more than 75% of the world's active and dormant volcanoes). The Ring of Fire is sometimes called the circum-Pacific belt.
About 90% of the world's earthquakes and 81% of the world's largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire. The next most seismically active region (5Ð6% of earthquakes and 17% of the world's largest earthquakes) is the Alpide belt, which extends from Java to the northern Atlantic Ocean via the Himalayas and southern Europe.
All but three of the world's 25 largest volcanic eruptions of the last 11,700 years occurred at volcanoes in the Ring of Fire.
The Ring of Fire is a direct result of plate tectonics: the movement and collisions of lithospheric plates. The eastern section of the ring is the result of the Nazca Plate and the Cocos Plate being subducted beneath the westward-moving South American Plate.
The Cocos Plate is being subducted beneath the Caribbean Plate, in Central America. A portion of the Pacific Plate and the small Juan de Fuca Plate are being subducted beneath the North American Plate.
Along the northern portion, the northwestward-moving Pacific plate is being subducted beneath the Aleutian Islands arc. Farther west, the Pacific plate is being subducted along the Kamchatka Peninsula arcs on south past Japan.
The southern portion is more complex, with a number of smaller tectonic plates in collision with the Pacific plate from the Mariana Islands, the Philippines, Bougainville, Tonga, and New Zealand; this portion excludes Australia, since it lies in the center of its tectonic plate. Indonesia lies between the Ring of Fire along the northeastern islands adjacent to and including New Guinea and the Alpide belt along the south and west from Sumatra, Java, Bali, Flores, and Timor. The famous and very active San Andreas Fault zone of California is a transform fault which offsets a portion of the East Pacific Rise under southwestern United States and Mexico.
The motion of the fault generates numerous small earthquakes, at multiple times a day, most of which are too small to be felt. The active Queen Charlotte Fault on the west coast of the Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, has generated three large earthquakes during the 20th century: a magnitude 7 event in 1929; a magnitude 8.1 in 1949 (Canada's largest recorded earthquake); and a magnitude 7.4 in 1970. Read more
Maps reveal new details about New Zealand's lost underwater continent CNN - June 23, 2020
Under New Zealand, there lies a vast continent on the sea floor. Once part of the same land mass as Antarctica and Australia, the lost continent of Zealandia broke off 85 million years ago and eventually sank below the ocean, where it stayed largely hidden for centuries. Now, maps reveal new research about the underwater continent where dinosaurs once roamed - and allow the public to virtually explore it. GNS Science, a New Zealand research institute, published two new maps and an interactive website on Monday. The maps cover the shape of the ocean floor and Zealandia's tectonic profile, which collectively help tell the story of the continent's origins.
The lost continent of Zealandia hides clues to the Ring of Fire's birth Live Science - February 11, 2020
The hidden undersea continent of Zealandia underwent an upheaval at the time of the birth of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Zealandia is a chunk of continental crust next door to Australia. It's almost entirely beneath the ocean, with the exception of a few protrusions, like New Zealand and New Caledonia. But despite its undersea status, Zealandia is not made of magnesium- and iron-rich oceanic crust. Instead, it is composed of less-dense continental crust. The existence of this odd geology has been known since the 1970s, but only more recently has Zealandia been more closely explored. In 2017, geoscientists reported in the journal GSA Today that Zealandia qualifies as a continent in its own right, thanks to its structure and its clear separation from the Australian continent.
Is a massive tremor on the way? Ring of Fire activity returns as a series of earthquakes shakes the Pacific plate Daily Mail - February 13, 2018
A flurry of earthquakes has hit Earth's Pacific plate over the past week, renewing fears a massive tremor is on the way after four disasters jolted the region in January. Quakes have hit near Japan, Guam and Taiwan around the planet's so-called 'Ring of Fire', a horseshoe-shaped zone that is a hotbed for tectonic and volcanic activity. Some have suggested the frequency and proximity of the tremors are signs of a bigger earthquake to come. Experts have claimed events around the Ring of Fire are rarely linked and that in most cases adjacent disasters are a coincidence.
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