PACIFIC RING OF FIRE: Volcanoes, Earthquakes and Plate Tectonics

Pacific Ring of Fire

Last Updated: Sep 23, 2018

The Pacific Ring of Fire: Plate Tectonic Movement

Earth has 12 major tectonic plate boundaries with small micro plates less visible on a world map.

Each tectonic plate boundary can interact with each other by either diverging, converging or transforming.

The most violent catastrophes occur at convergent boundaries. When plates smash together, it has created chains of volcanoes.

For example, almost all along the Ring of Fire, plates collide and sink into the ocean floor at zones of subduction.

The Eurasian Plate, Pacific Plate, and Indo-Australian Plate

Plates are always moving. Even though their movements are very slow, we can track them with extremely precise GPS measurements. In fact, they move about 5-10 cm every year.

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.

The Pacific Ring of Fire is due to subduction zones of three main active tectonic plates. They are as follows: Eurasian Plate, Pacific Plate, and Indo-Australian Plate

At convergent boundaries, plates push into each other

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 creates 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.

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