Science

Ring of Fire: the most dynamic place on Earth

Brimming with activity The Ring of fire. Photo: Wikimedia Commons   | Photo Credit: GRJGM

The last two months witnessed a number of earthquakes – Japan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, parts of India, Indonesia, Philippines, Ecuador, France and Vanuatu. Do you notice a connection between some of them? Yes, except for Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and France, they are located in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. And this region is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and is named the Ring of Fire. It is an arc, comprising mountains, volcanoes and oceanic trenches.

As much as 90 per cent of the world’s earthquakes happen in this region, while the Himalayan regions, Java and the north Atlantic Ocean fall under the Alpide belt, which experiences 6 per cent of the earthquakes. The region has also experienced 25 largest volcanic eruptions in the last 100 centuries. Why is it susceptible to such seismic activities? The answer lies deep within. This is due to the movement of earth’s lithosphere. The Pacific plate moves faster than the ones in the Atlantic basin. These tectonic plates are like rafts on the surface of the Earth. They move, collide and slide against each other. When a large plate like the Pacific collides or interacts with a number of large and small plates in the surrounding area, a large amount of energy is emitted. This sudden release of energy causes seismic waves that make the ground shake, resulting in an earthquake.

This energy also melts rocks into magma, which rises to the surface as lava and forms volcanoes.

Take this quiz

1. How many active and dormant volcanoes are located within the Ring of Fire?



Ring of Fire: the most dynamic place on Earth

2. The picture shows the only confirmed active volcano in South Asia. Located in India, it erupted last in 2005 and it was linked to the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake, which also caused the tsunami. Identify this mountain.

3. This mountain located in Washington is considered to be the most dangerous in the world. Listed as a Decade Volcano, it last erupted in 1894.

4. This country was earlier attached to the Eurasian continent. But the subduction of Pacific plates pulled it eastward and created its islands. Which country are we talking about?

Fact file

The Pacific Ring of Fire is a horseshoe shaped area around the Pacific Ocean that contains subduction zones and deep trenches.

The Ring of Fire stretches from New Zealand northward along the eastern edge of Asia, then east across the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, and then south along the western coasts of North and South America.

Identify this famous film director

Ring of Fire: the most dynamic place on Earth
The Pacific Plate covers about 103,300,000 square kilometres of our planet. The Challenger Deep, which is at one end of the trench, is the deepest point on Earth. This Canadian film director spent seven years preparing for his solo descent to the depths of the Challenger Deep. He took pictures documenting his dive on March 26, 2012. The descent lasted 2 hours and 36 minutes and the recorded depth was 35,756 ft when Deepsea Challenger touched down.


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Printable version | Jul 23, 2021 9:17:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/in-school/sh-science/ring-of-fire/article8556173.ece

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