What is Pacific Ring of Fire?
Looking for Pacific Ring of Fire facts? Before that, let’s quickly learn what is Pacific Ring of Fire.
The Pacific Ring of Fire refers to an area sitting in the Pacific Ocean basin. There are 452 volcanoes in this area. These volcanoes make up 75% of all the volcanoes present on our Earth.
Before we start with our list of Pacific Ring of Fire facts, we will like to give you a snapshot of the content you should be expecting in this article. Here are the six basic questions that we will cover in this article:
- What is Pacific Ring of Fire?
- Why is it called Ring of Fire?
- Why earthquakes are common around Ring of Fire?
- What are the countries that belong to the Pacific Ring of Fire?
- How big is Pacific Ring of Fire?
- Is the Ring of Fire a complete Ring?
- Which tectonic plates are in action in Ring of Fire?
- Which are the major volcanic activities and earthquakes related to Ring of Fire?
- What is the alternate name of Ring of Fire?
- What are some weird facts about the Ring of Fire?
The list that will follow shortly will try to answer all these four questions in the most concise fashion possible. So, let us being with the list of facts about Ring of Fire…
Pacific Ring of Fire Facts: 1-5 | What is Ring of Fire?
1. What is Pacific Ring of Fire? It actually refers to a massive region in the Pacific Ocean. This area sits in the basin of Pacific Ocean. It is the home to 452 volcanoes that make up 75% of all volcanoes present in this world.
2. It is also the region where 90% of all the earthquakes that take place in world actually happen.
3. As far as the volcanoes are concerned, not all of them are active. Many of them are active while many of them are dormant.
4. As far volcanic eruptions are concerned, 22 out of 25 largest volcanic eruptions that the world has experienced in last 11,7000 years have all occurred in the Pacific Ring of Fire.
5. If that is not enough to scare you, here is another disturbing Ring of Fire fact: 81% of the most devastating earthquakes that have ever happened in recorded history have all occurred in this Ring of Fire.
Pacific Ring of Fire Facts: 6-10 | Why is it called Ring of Fire?
6. Why is it called Ring of Fire? Now that’s an interesting question. The answer to this question is one simple things – the magma!
7. This is the region where several tectonic plates meet. The only problem is that these plates are constantly floating on mantle.
Because the float around, they either collide with each other, or they are pulled apart or they just slide along each other. Doesn’t sound that bad, right? But wait, we are not done yet.
8. When the tectonic plates collide, they form convergent boundaries where subduction zones are created. What really is that?
When two plates collide, the one that is heavier simply slides below the lighter plate. The one that goes down will then melt and convert into magma that is buoyant.
The magma then rises up through the crust. This has happened over millions of years and is happening even now. This is what has created the volcanic arc – a string of volcanoes.
9. When tectonic plates are pulled apart by the tectonic forces, they create what are known as divergent boundaries. What really are those things?
Well, what basically happens is that when the plates are pulled apart, rift valleys are created right on the sea floor. When this happens, the magma rises up, filling in the place and then gets cooled by the ocean water, thereby forming new crust.
This too has happened (and is still happening now) for millions of years. The result is that the ocean bed has high ridges.
10. Then there are transform boundaries that are created when two tectonic plates slide along each other. Because the plates have irregular shape, they often get stuck with each other but the plates continue their movement.
But because the plates are massive and have immense force, the rocks will either slip or break. The areas where slippage or breakage take place are called faults. When the rocks slip or break, they will lurch forward all of a sudden and cause earthquakes.
Because magma is involved, which continuously rises from underneath, forming volcanoes and ridges, the area is called Ring of Fire. Of course, the fiery lava that is spit out by the active volcanoes in the ring is also responsible for the name.
Pacific Ring of Fire Facts: 11-15 | Why earthquakes are common in Ring of Fire?
11. Why are earthquakes so common along the Ring of Fire? The answer to this question lies in transform boundaries described in #10.
12. Most of the fault lines that are present on this planet are present in the Ring of Fire itself.
13. Since tectonic plates are constantly floating around on mantle, formation of transform boundaries in the Ring of Fire is pretty common that causes earthquakes frequently.
14. One of the most active faults that are present in the Ring of Fire is the San Andreas fault. This plate lies between northward moving Pacific plate and southward moving North American plate.
15. The San Andreas fault is 1,287 kilometers long and 16 kilometers deep and it cuts right through California’s western part.
Pacific Ring of Fire Facts: 16-20 | Countries in Ring of Fire, Its Shape
16. What are the countries that belong to the Pacific Ring of Fire? There are many actually! These countries include:
- United States of America
- Solomon Islands
- New Zealand
- Papa New Guinea
- El Salvador
- Costa Rica
17. How big is the Pacific Ring of Fire? Well, it is quite big! It stretches over 40,000 kilometers or 25,000 miles.
18. If you try to look at the stretch of the Ring of Fire, you will notice that it start from South America’s southern tip and goes all the way up to North American coast and then goes through Aleutian Islands and then down through Japan and all the way to Philippines and then Indonesia before curving back into New Guinea to finally cover the islands of Southwest Pacific and eventually New Zealand.
19. Is Ring of Fire a complete ring? No, not really. The most widely accepted region is the one that we just mentioned in #18. It is of the shape of a horseshoe.
20. Despite the fact that the Pacific Ring of Fire is not really considered as a closed ring, if we actually consider the dormant and active volcanoes in Antarctica, we will get a closed ring.
Ring of Fire Facts: 21-25 | Tectonic Plate Boundaries
21. Which tectonic plates are in action in Ring of Fire? There are several. On the eastern side of the Ring of Fire are three plates – South American Plate, Cocos Plate and Nazca Plate. The South American Plate is moving westward while the Cocos Plate and the Nazca Plate are subducted beneath the South American Plate.
22. Towards Central America, there is the Caribbean Plate beneath which, the Cocos Plate is being subducted.
23. On the western side, the Juan de Fuca Plate (which is a small plate) and a part of Pacific Plate are subducting beneath North American Plate.
24. The Pacific Plate, which is moving northwest, is subducting beneath Aleutian Islands Arc in the northern portion of the Ring of Fire.
25. On the farther west of Ring of Fire, the Pacific Plate is also subducting beneath Kamchatka Peninsula arcs on the south of Japan.
The southern side of the Ring of Fire is very complex with several small tectonic plates actually colliding with Pacific Plate from New Zealand, Tonga, Bougainville, Philippines and Marina Islands.
Ring of Fire Facts: 26-30 | Major Volcanic Eruptions and Earthquakes of Ring of Fire
26. Which are the major volcanic activities and earthquakes related to Ring of Fire? To start with, let us state that most of the active volcanoes in Ring of Fire are on its western edge.
27. The active volcanoes run through Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula through Japan along with southeast Asia and finally down to New Zealand.
One of the most active volcanoes in the whole Ring of Fire is New Zealand’s Mount Ruapheu. This volcano gives one major eruption every 50 years and several minor eruptions every single year.
28. Indonesia’s Krakatoa is an island volcano with much less eruption frequency that Mount Ruapheu but far more spectacular.
A very devastating explosion of Krakatoa in 1883 destroyed the whole island and rocks, volcanic ash and volcanic gases were hurled 50 miles or 80 kilometers straight up in sky.
Ever since that eruption, minor eruptions have been taking place and a new island volcano is taking shape. It is known as Anak Krakatoa.
29. Another active and devastating volcano on the western side of the Ring of Fire is Mount Fuji. It is Japan’s tallest mountain and it sits at a tri-junction – the meeting place of Philippine Plate, Okhotsk Plate and Amur Plate.
30. The last time Mount Fuji erupted was in 1707 on December 16. The eruption was so powerful and so much of tephra (solid volcanic material – volcanic rocks and volcanic ash) was released that 100 kilometers away in the city of Edo (now Tokyo), candles had to be used right in the middle of the day.
Ring of Fire Facts: 31-35 | Major Volcanic Eruptions and Earthquakes of Ring of Fire
31. Even the eastern side of the Ring of Fire has some active volcanoes. For instance, there is Mount St. Helens that, during its 1980’s historic eruption killed 57 people, destroyed property worth USD 1 billion and turned hundreds of miles into nothing but wastelands. The eruption continued for 9 hours and volcanic ash covered 11 states of USA.
32. The most dangerous volcano of the Ring of Fire is Popocatépetl in Trans-Mexican volcanic belt. Since 1519, it has erupted 15 times and as of today, there are 20 million people who are at risk.
33. Ring of Fire is responsible for some of the most devastating earthquakes the world has known. For instance, the Chile earthquake 1960. It had a magnitude of 9.5 and the worst ever earthquake since 1900.
34. The next major one was 1964’s Great Alaska earthquake which had a magnitude of 9.2.
35. 2011 saw one of the most devastating earthquakes in history of this world when Japan was hit by an earthquake of 9.0 magnitude. It killed 15,883 people, 2,652 went missing and 6,194 were injured. That earthquake also led to Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster because of the tsunami that was caused by the earthquake.
Ring of Fire Facts: 36-40 | Alternate Name and Weird Facts
36. The Ring of Fire also goes by a different name. It is known as the Circum-Pacific Belt.
37. Here are some weird Ring of Fire facts: 10% of all volcanic activities in world actually take place in Japan, which sits on western edge of the Ring of Fire.
38. The Pacific Plate, which see some major tectonic activities in the Ring of Fire is cooling off. Scientists have found out that the parts of the plate which are younger (only 2 million years old – approximately) are contracting and cooling faster than the older parts (about 100 million years old).
39. Ring of Fire has several hotspots. These are the places from where the heat from mantle rises. This heat is responsible for magma creation in upper brittle portions of mantle.
However, these hotspots are not associated with tectonic plate movement or interaction and hence, they are not considered by some geologists as part of Ring of Fire.
40. Most of the active volcanoes in Ring of Fire are underwater volcanoes with the deepest volcano on record being West Mata that sits at a depth of 1100 meters or 3609 feet.