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Pacific Ring of Fire and earthquakes: How are they linked?

By Dhrubaa Ghosh,

Discover why more earthquakes and volcanic explosions happen in some parts of the world than others.  

Many earthquakes along the Pacific Ring of Fire have been caused by the amount of movement in the tectonic plates in the area.

On the morning of September 22, 2021, a severe earthquake rattled south eastern Australia, cracking buildings, knocking down walls and sending panicked people running into the streets of Melbourne. Geologists put the magnitude of the quake at 5.9 on the Richter scale, and said it came from a depth of 10 kilometres. Earthquakes are not so common in Australia's highly populated south eastern part, but they often strike the part facing the Indian Ocean, which is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. The earthquake caught everyone’s attention since earthquakes along the pacific Ring of Fire can be scary. But what is this Ring? Let’s find out.  

How big is the Pacific Ring of Fire?  
The Pacific Ring of Fire, also called the Circum-Pacific Belt, is a route along the Pacific Ocean characterized by active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. Its length is approximately 40,000 kilometres. The chain runs up the western coast of South and North America, crosses over the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, runs down the eastern coast of Asia past Australia’s New Zealand side into the northern coast of Antarctica. Apart from these, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, USA, Canada, Russia, Japan, Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia are some other countries located in the Ring. 

How many volcanoes are there in the Pacific Ring of Fire?  
75% of Earth’s volcanoes, that’s more than 450 of them, are located along the Ring of Fire. 90% of earthquakes occur along its path, including the planet’s most violent and dramatic seismic events.  

What created the Pacific Ring of Fire?  
So many volcanoes and earthquakes along the Pacific Ring of Fire were caused by the amount of movement of the tectonic plates in the area. Plates that make up the Earth’s surface overlap or subduct along this path. The rock that is subducted or pushed under, melts and becomes magma. So much magma leads to plenty of volcanoes. Along the border of the Pacific and North American Plates, the movement is sideways instead of overlaps. This generates the large number of earthquakes in this zone.  

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