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Pattaya Daily News

21 March 2011 :: 15:03:16 pm 51773

The Pacific Ring Of Fire

We may have heard of “The Ring of Fire” or “Pacific Ring of Fire” from the earthquake and tsunami that happened in Japan recently. The Ring of Fire is the area in the basin of the Pacific Ocean, where most volcanic and earthquake eruptions occur. In a 40,000 km horseshoe shape, it passes over the volcanic arcs, oceanic trenches, and earth plates. Its coverage extends from Australia to Asia to North America and to South America. There are 31 countries situated in the area of The Ring of Fires, including Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Japan, New Zealand, USA, and etc.
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The Ring of Fire is a direct result of movement of plates and collisions of crustal plates. The Nazca Plate collided with South American Plate to become the Andes Mounthain Range which has caused many volcanoes including Cotopaxi Volcano that occurred in Ecuador. Cocos Plate in Middle America has collided with North America Plate. Juan de Fuca Plate and Gorda Plate are subducted beneath the North American Plate and British Columbia Plate – the area where St. Helens Volcano erupted in 1980. The northern region which is adjacent to the northwest of Pacific plate is subducted beneath the Aleutian Islands. Further west, the Pacific plate is being subducted along the Kamchatka Peninsula arcs on south, past Japan. In the south, many small plates adjacent to Pacific plate cause volcanoes in New Guinea and Micronesia.

About 90% of the world’s earthquakes and 80% of the world’s largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire. The five largest earthquakes all happen in the countries that are situated in the The Ring of Fire. These countries are listed below:

1. 1952 Kamchatka earthquakes happened on 4 November 1952 in Kamchatka, Russia – 9.0 magnitudes.

2. 1960 Valdivia earthquake happened on 22 May 1960 in Valdivia, Chile – 9.5 magnitudes.

3. 1964 Alaska earthquake happened on 27 March 1964 in Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA – 9.2 magnitudes

4. 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake happened on 26 December 2004 in Sumatra, Indonesia – 9.1 magnitudes. This resulted in a tsunami in Indonesia and subsequently in Thailand.

5. 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami happened on 11 March 2011 in Tōhoku region, Japan – 9.0 magnitudes.

The Ring of Fire has 452 volcanoes and is home to over 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes , for example, Mount Fuji, Japan; Mount Villarrica, Chile; Mount St. Helens, USA; Mount Pinatubo plus Mount Mayon, The Philippines; and Mount Merapi, Indonesia.

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