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The Ring of Fire

Geography | 7-14 yrs | Reading Pod, Interactive

What is the Pacific “Ring of Fire”?

The Ring of Fire is the geographical area around the edges of the Pacific Ocean. It is called so because it is shaped as a horseshoe and it has more exploding, active volcanoes and earthquakes than any place on the earth. It stretches for 40,000 kilometres and has 755 of the world’s volcanoes. 80% of the world’s earthquakes occur in this area.

Where is the Ring of Fire located on the world?

A stretch of almost 452 volcanoes are found here starting from the southern tip of South America, up along the coast of North America and across the Bering Strait. It goes down through Japan and then straight into New Zealand. The ring closes in Antarctica where there are many active and dormant volcanoes.

What is the cause of the Ring of Fire?

The ring of fire was caused by the movement of the tectonic plates. These plates are nothing but enormous slabs of the Earth’s crust which move, break and then fit into each other like pieces of a puzzle. Tectonic plates are constantly moving and most tectonic activity occurs in the Ring of Fire region. These plates crash into each other, causing stress on the surface, break, slip, gets stuck, build pressure causing earthquakes and volcanic activity.

World’s Most Active Volcanoes

Most of the active volcanoes are found on the Western edge of the ring of fire. They range from the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia through the islands of Japan, South East Asia and then into New Zealand. Mount Ruapehu in New Zealand is one of the most active volcanoes. Mount Fuji, Japans most famous mountain is an active volcano. Popocatepetl in Mexico is the most dangerous active volcano.

How do Earthquakes occur?

Earthquakes happen when two tectonic plates scrape against each other. The plates are forced underneath each other. The down going plate bends downwards causing the surface to break. The Pacific plate is quite enormous and thus it interacts with a number of small and large plates and cause earthquakes. The South America subduction zone, off the coast of Chile, created the largest known earthquake in 1960.