Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on TwitterThe Pacific Ring of Fire, or simply the Ring of Fire, is not actually ring-shaped. Instead, it takes the form of a horseshoe with the opening facing downward.
The Ring of Fire is home to the most naturally volatile places in our planet. 90% of the world’s earthquakes occur here and 80% of the biggest ones that were ever recorded in the history books happened in this same region. In addition to that, it is where you can find 75% of the Earth’s active and dormant volcanoes.
Because tsunamis are caused by disturbances in great bodies of water, the frequent volcanic eruptions and earthquakes in the Ring of Fire have produced tsunamis every now and then. The 9.5-rated Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960 produced a series of tsunamis that pounded the eastern shores of countries like the Philippines and Japan, both located on the opposite side of the Pacific Ocean from Chile.
The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami obviously did not take place in the Pacific. However, the devastation it caused prompted governments to speed up the deployment of early warning devices especially in the one place in the world where tsunamis had the highest probability to strike – The Ring of Fire in the Pacific Ocean.
Almost all of the DART buoys are positioned along the Ring of Fire. DART stands for Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis and is an advanced tsunami warning system. Tsunami indicators are detected by pressure-sensitive devices below the buoys. The buoys then send these data to a satellite, which in turn transmits the information to land-based stations.
Once the proper authorities are notified, people in places that may be affected can be warned and evacuation procedures can commence.
Among the biggest eruptions that have taken place in the Ring of Fire were Mount St. Helen’s in 1980, Mount Krakatoa’s in 1883, Mount Pinatubo’s in 1991, and Mount Redoubt’s in 1989.
All these eruptions and earthquakes are caused by the plate movements in the region. In the east, ring activity is caused by the subduction of the Nazca and Cocos plates under the South American Plate. In the north, it is caused by the subduction of the Pacific Plate under the North American plate. In the west, activity is caused by the subduction of the Pacific Plate along the Kamchatka Peninsula.
There are other plate interactions not mentioned above and you can be sure they contribute to the volatility of the region.
We have some articles in Universe Today that are related to the Ring of Fire. Here are two of them:
Ring of Fire articles brought to you by NASA, here are the links:
- FLYING LABORATORY BEGINS PACIFIC RIM EARTH SCIENCE STUDIES
- 7.3-Magnitude Quake off the Honduras Coast
Tired eyes? Let your ears help you learn for a change. Here are some episodes from Astronomy Cast that just might suit your taste: