What is the Ring of Fire

‘Ring of Fire’ is a zone in the Pacific basin where the frequency of earthquakes and volcanoes is very high. The region stretches from the eastern side of New Zealand and comprises of the region between the western borders of the Eurasian plate, and eastern edges of the North American and south American plates. The Ring of fire or the circum Pacific seismic belt extends to a length of almost 40000 Kilometers. Almost 75 percent of the active volcanoes of the world are located in this region and the horseshoe shaped region comprises about 450 volcanoes.

The interaction between the lithospheric plates is said to be the prime reason as to why the region has frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The process of subduction of the pacific plate under the other plates, results in the production of enormous energy that is capable of melting the rocks in the region, thereby, leading to molten material rising above the surface resulting in a volcano in the region. The Pacific plate is continuously being forced under the other continental plates in this region and this gives rise to volcanoes very frequently. These areas are prone to earthquake and the risk is high owing to the fact that they are coastal areas. Minor tremors on the sea basin can lead to tsunamis too and lead to high number of casualties.

The earthquake that occurred in March 2011 in Japan measured 9.0 on the Richter scale and it would be worth noting here that this region was in the Ring of Fire. Some of the areas of frequent collisions between the plates are as mentioned below. In Japan, where volcanoes and earthquakes are most common the Pacific plate is subducted under the Eurasian plate, leading to the creation of islands in this region. Due to the interaction of the Pacific plate with the North American plate, the Aleutian trench is getting deeper.

Mount Saint Helens in British Columbia has been created as a result of the subduction zones created by the Pacific plate, the Juan de Fuca and Gorda plates. Mexican volcanoes have been created by the collision of the Cocos plate with North American plate. The volcanoes in New Zealand and other areas of Micronesia are a result of the subduction of the Indo Australian plate under the Pacific plate. These regions are under constant threat of earthquakes and therefore, all the structures in these regions need to be constructed in a manner so that they may resist minor tremors that are seen throughout the year to avoid situations similar to that happened in Fukushima.