The Ring of Fire also referred to as the Circum-Pacific Belt, is a path along the Pacific Ocean characterized by active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. It is largely a result of Plate Tectonics where the massive Pacific Plate interacts with less-dense plates surrounding it.
Pritish Kumar Halder brief illustration of pacific ‘Ring of fire’.
The Ring of Fire is a 25,000 mile (40,000 km) horseshoe-shaped area of intense volcanic and seismic (earthquake) activity that follows the edges of the Pacific Ocean. Receiving its fiery name from the 452 dormant and active volcanoes that lie within it, the Ring of Fire includes 75% of the world’s active volcanoes and is also responsible for 90% of the world’s earthquakes.
What Created the Ring of Fire?
The Ring of Fire was created by plate tectonics. Tectonic plates are like giant rafts on the Earth’s surface that often slide next to, collide with, and are forced underneath each other. The Pacific Plate is quite large and thus it borders (and interacts) with a number of large and small plates.
The interactions between the Pacific Plate and its surrounding tectonic plates creates a tremendous amount of energy, which, in turn, easily melts rocks into magma. This magma then rises to the surface as lava and forms volcanoes.
Geographical Stretch of Ring of Fire
The Ring of Fire is stretched to approximately 40,000 kilometers (24,900 miles) tracing boundaries between several tectonic plates including the Pacific, Juan de Fuca, Cocos, Indian-Australian, Nazca, North American, and Philippine Plates.
The chain runs up along the western coast of South and North America, crosses over the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, runs down the eastern coast of Asia past New Zealand and into the northern coast of Antarctica.
Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, United States, Canada, Russia, Japan, Philippines, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Antarctica are some of the important places located in the ring of the fire.
Major Volcanoes in the Ring of Fire
With 452 volcanoes, the Ring of Fire has some that are more famous that others. The following is a listing of major volcanoes in the Ring of Fire.
Running 5,500 miles (8,900 km) north and south along the western edge of South America, the Andes Mountains are the longest, continental mountain range in the world. The Andean Volcanic Belt is within the mountain range and is broken up into four volcanic zones that include such active volcanoes as Cotopaxi and Cerro Azul. It is also home to the highest, active volcano — Ojos del Salado.
Popocatepetl is an active volcano in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. Located near Mexico City, this volcano is considered by many to be the most dangerous in the world since a large eruption could potentially kill millions of people.
Mt. Saint Helens
The Cascade Mountains in the United States’ Pacific Northwest hosts the 800 mile (1,300 km) Cascade Volcanic Arc. The Cascades contain 13 major volcanoes and nearly 3,000 other volcanic features. The most recent eruption in the Cascades occurred at Mt. Saint Helens in 1980.
Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, which consist of 14 large and 55 small islands, were made from volcanic activity. The Aleutians contain 52 volcanoes, with a few of the most active being Cleveland, Okmok, and Akutan. The deep Aleutian Trench, which also sits next to the islands, has been created at the subduction zone with a maximum depth of 25,194 feet (7679 meters).
Located on the Japanese island of Honshu, Mt. Fuji, at 12,380 feet (3,776 m), is the tallest mountain in Japan and the world’s most visited mountain. However, Mt. Fuji is more than a mountain, it is an active volcano that last erupted in 1707.
In the Indonesia Island Arc sits Krakatoa, remembered for its massive eruption on August 27, 1883 that killed 36,000 people and was heard 2,800 miles away (it is considered the loudest sound in modern history). The Indonesian Island Arc is also home to Mt. Tambora, whose eruption on April 10, 1815 was the largest in major history, being calculated as a 7 on the Volcanic Explosion Index (VEI).
Rising to 9,177 feet (2797 m), Mt. Ruapehu is the tallest mountain on the North Island of New Zealand. Located in the southern section of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, Mt. Ruapehu is New Zealand’s most active volcano.
As a place that produces most of the world’s volcanic activity and earthquakes, the Ring of Fire is a fascinating place. Understanding more about the Ring of Fire and being able to accurately predict volcanic eruptions and earthquakes may help eventually save millions of lives.
Source of Geothermal Resources
World’s largest geothermal energy resources (more than 40%) are stored in the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Geothermal resources are highly associated with the active plate boundary (divergent or convergent plate type) where volcanism or frequent earthquakes have occurred.
The region is tectonically a very much active region, and as a result, it has stored a lot of heat which can be used as geothermal resources.
Around 13 GW (till 2015) power generations had been installed on the basis of geothermal resources in the world where more than 6 GW have been found in the ring of fire region.
The geothermal energy resources can be utilized both for electricity generation and direct uses.
Roughly estimated more than 110 GW electricity generation capabilities of geothermal resources can be found in this region.