Pacific Ring of Fire: Volcanoes, Earthquakes and Plate Tectonics
The Pacific Ring of Fire is a horseshoe pattern of plate tectonic boundaries.
The most violent catastrophes occur at convergent boundaries along the ring. When plates smash together, it creates chains of volcanoes.
Almost all plate tectonics along the Ring of Fire collide and sink into the ocean floor as convergent plates.
In fact, about 90% of the world’s earthquakes occur at these zones of subduction along the Pacific Ring of Fire.
Eurasian, Pacific and Indo-Australian Plate
Plates are always moving. They’re never idle. Even though they move just 5-10 cm every year, we can track them with extremely precise GPS measurements.
Despite their slow movement, plate tectonics can release a tremendous amount of energy. For example, Indonesia is known for having one of most active chain of volcanoes in the world.
For example, the Ring of Fire tectonic plates collide and sink into the ocean floor at zones of subduction. This causes violent earthquakes.
Plates push into each other at convergent boundaries
Convergent boundaries or subduction zones are where two plates collide into each other. Because matter cannot be destroyed, it forces one of the plates into the mantle underneath.
But continents don’t always collide with oceans. Sometimes, continents collide with other continents, which is part of the formation of mountains.
It’s not only the Pacific Ring of Fire, but you can look all around the world and find examples. For example, the Nazca plate has created the Andes mountain range.
It’s just that erosion wears it away fairly quickly. For example, the Appalachians use to be 5 miles higher, when Africa collided with North America.
But over 300 million years, weathering and erosion have torn them down and washed them through streams.
Our moving Earth
The ground beneath is not constant. It’s a vibrant, dynamic planet. Over long periods of time, it’s constantly changing.
For example, earthquakes split the Earth’s crust creating new land and even mountain ranges.
Even geysers shoot out water when it seeps into the Earth’s cracks.
All the result of convergent, divergent and transform plate boundaries.