By Mahak Paliwal
The ‘Ring of Fire’, famed as the world’s hotbed of tectonic and volcanic eruptions, is a horseshoe or ‘U’ shaped belt around the Pacific Ocean. This belt accounts for approximately 90% of the world’s total earthquakes and contains about 450 volcanoes. The horizons of the zone stretch along the coastlines of the Pacific. The large tectonic plates the collide here pulverise each other each year.
The Ring of Fire starts in New Zealand and extends to Chile, covering the varied coasts of America and Asia. It extends to an area of about 40,000 km (25000 miles), stretching all around the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia. It also covers some surface of the Bering Strait between Alaska and Russia.
The factors that create hazardous conditions
Scientists and geologists have barely begun to understand the science behind this confined area of explosivity. Geologists contend that it is the location of this region close to various tectonic plates as the cause of the disasters. However, the actual cause remains debatable. The amalgamation of fluid, hot magma and cooling water underneath the crust of the earth are also cited as the reason for frequent disasters.
The most powerful earthquake observed so far is the one that occurred in Chile during the 1960s, which had a magnitude of 9.5. The Pacific Ring of Fire accounts for approximately 81% of the most damaging earthquakes that the world has ever witnessed. The Alpine belt is the next most unstable region, accounting for only 17% of the world’s largest earthquakes.
The ripple effect of disasters
The Pacific Ring of Fire has been in an active stage for the past few days. Earthquakes were recorded in Alaska, Indonesia, and Hawaii and volcanic eruptions in Japan and the Philippines have caused panic in the surrounding region. An earthquake of 7.9 magnitude in the Gulf of Alaska sparked an alert on Canada’s west coast, the United States and certain parts of Mexico City. An earthquake also struck off of Indonesia’s central island Java with the magnitude of about 6 on the Richter scale. Further, Mount Mayon in the Philippines and Japan’s Mount Kasatsu-Shirane have also witnessed eruptions.
The eruption at Mount Kasatsu-Shirane resulted in an avalanche, which not only led to the death of one person but also injured many. The earthquake in Japan last week also disrupted the lives of people on the island of Honshu, since the epicentre was not far away from Hokkaido Island. One person was killed and approximately fifteen were injured including several Japanese soldiers. An earthquake in Indonesia at this time also destroyed 130 buildings and injured thousands of residents while leaving many homeless.
A mere coincidence?
Surprisingly, scientists claim that the disasters in the Ring of Fire in the past week are in no way connected and their co-occurrence is a mere coincidence. Professor Chris Elders is a geologist who works at Curtin University in Perth, Australia. He says, “There’s not really likely to be any connection. While they do indeed have the same origin—the Ring of Fire—these recent events are a coincidence. The region itself is a breeding ground for seismic activity.”
Featured Image Source: Pexels
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