What is The Ring of Fire?

What is Ring of Fire

What is Ring of Fire? The Ring of Fire is an area around the Pacific Ocean where 70% of the volcanoes are located and 90% of the earthquakes occur. Subduction zones have formed where the Pacific Plate is subducting beneath continental and younger ocean plates. There are 450 either dormant or active volcanoes along the Ring of Fire. The two largest earthquakes ever recorded occurred on the Ring of Fire in 1960 and 1964.

Ring of Fire around the Pacific Ocean   UPSC -IAS

Novarupta-Katmai eruption

The 1912 Novarupta-Katmai volcano eruption was the largest eruption of the 20th century on the Ring of Fire. The eruption began on June 6, 1912. Four hours after the eruption began the ash had reached Kodiak Island 100 miles to the southeast. Ash clouds stretched thousands of miles across the skies of southern Alaska and western Canada. The ash clouds reached Algeria in Africa by June 17th.

In 1916 a National Geographic expedition led by Robert Griggs investigated the eruption. They believed that Katmai volcano was the source of the eruption because a 2-miles crater had formed at the summit of Katmai. The magma had drained from Katmai and was erupted by Novarupta a new volcano. It was not until the 1950s that the source of the eruption was credited to Novarupta and not Katmai.

Mount Pinatubo eruption

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo that was the second largest eruption of the 20th century on the Ring of Fire. The eruption began June 15, 1991 on Luzon Island in the Philippines. The eruption began during a hurricane. Pyroclastic flows filled with hot ash and gases traveled down the sides of mountain destroying everything in their path. Giant mudflows (lahars) carried ash and other debris to the valleys below. A giant volcanic ash cloud hundreds of miles across filled the skies. 

The day before the June 15 eruption over 60,000 people evacuated the area. They moved to safety because they were shown movies about the destructive force of pyroclastic flows, lahars, and other volcanic dangers. It is estimated that 5,000 lives were saved by the evacuation the day before the eruption. The people who died during the eruption were people who refused to leave their homes.

The Ring of Fire is home to 452 volcanoes and 90% of the earthquakes occur on the Ring of Fire.  Chapters in our book include information about deadly pyroclastic flows and lahars caused by volcanoes in and around the Pacific Ocean .            Myrna

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1960 Chile Earthquake and tsunami 

A 9.5 magnitude earthquake struck Chile on May 22, 1960. It was the largest earthquake ever recorded on the Ring of Fire. The earthquake occurred in a subduction zone off the coast of Chile. The earthquakes and tsunamis that struck the coast of Chile left 2 million people homeless, 3000 people injured and approximately 1,655 people dead.

Tsunami waves traveled across the Pacific Ocean striking Hilo, Hawaii. People were warned to seek high ground 6 hours before the tsunami struck. Many people ignored the warning and went down to see the tsunamis. A 35-foot wave came ashore within 1 minute of the predicted arrival time of the first wave. Sixty-one people were killed by the tsunami that had not moved to higher ground.

The tsunami reached the Japanese island of Honshu 22 hours after the earthquake began. The waves that came ashore were only 18 feet high. The waves destroyed 1,600 homes and 138 people were killed.

1964 Alaska earthquake and tsunami

The Great Alaskan earthquake occurred on March 27, 1964 in the late afternoon. It was the largest earthquake ever recorded in North America on the Ring of Fire. The earthquake originated in the Prince William Sound. Subsidence and uplift affected the land from the Prince William Sound to Kodiak Island. The Pacific Plate moved underneath the North American Plate an average of 9 m during the earthquake.

The earthquake occurred in the afternoon on Good Friday. Shops and schools were closed for the day and most of the people were at home. Only 16 were killed by the earthquake. The remaining 115 people who died were killed by tsunamis.

Ring of Fire Links

Cascadia Subduction Zone Learn more about the Cascadia Subduction Zone in the Pacific Northwest where a great earthquake could occur at any time.

2010 Chilean Earthquake Another megathrust earthquake struck Chile in 2010. Find out why these earthquakes occur so frequently there.

Island Arcs  Island arcs are a string of volcanic islands in the ocean. Find out more about these islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Strike Slip Fault Learn more about strike slip faults that are boundaries between crustal plates including the San Andreas Fault.

Subduction Zones Find out why the Pacific Ring of Fire has so many subduction zones. 

Aleutian Trench Learn more about this long trench which parallels the Aleutian Islands.

Tectonic Plate Movement Find out about tectonic plate movement and how it relates to the Theory of Plate Tectonics

Redoubt Volcano Learn more about redoubt volcano located on the Cook Inlet of Alaska.

Volcanic Arcs Find out how and where volcanic arcs form on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Ring of Fire Volcanoes Learn more about the Ring of Fire volcanoes that form in subduction zones.

Convergent Boundaries Learn how convergent boundaries have created the Ring of Fire in the Pacific Ocean.

Mt. Spurr Find out more about Mt. Spurr which is the tallest peak in the Aleutian Volcanic Arc.

Challenger Deep Learn more about the deepest point on the ocean floor that lies seven miles beneath the ocean's surface.

Composite Volcano Learn more about these towering mountains that form on the continents near subduction zones.

Pacific Ring of Fire Learn more about the Ring of Fire which is home to towering volcanoes and great earthquakes.

Kids Fun Science The links on our home page include information about volcanoes, science activities, plate tectonics, the rock cycle and much more

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