Ring of Fire: Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions around the Pacific explained - TomoNews

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QUITO, ECUADOR — Hundreds were killed and more injured when earthquakes hit Japan on Thursday and Saturday morning and Ecuador on Saturday night.

Despite occurring only 32 hours apart, experts believe the two are not related. The only commonality is that both are located in the seismically active Ring of Fire, reports Reuters.

The Ring of Fire is a horseshoe-shaped arc around the Pacific Ocean that extends from South America all the way to New Zealand.

At about 25,000 miles long, its most visible features are the volcanoes that dot the coast and make up roughly 75 percent of all active volcanoes on earth, according to National Geographic.

Throughout history, cataclysmic eruptions have occurred in this area, as well as 90 percent of the world's earthquakes. According to National Geographic, both are caused by the movement of tectonic plates — huge slabs of the earth's crust.

When plates slide horizontally past each other, some parts get stuck. Built-up stress in those areas eventually cause the rock to break or slip, and the plates to lurch forward, causing earthquakes.

Plates that collide form convergent plate boundaries, which give rise to volcanoes through subduction.

Those that pull apart form divergent boundaries, which become the site for seafloor spreading and rift valleys.

A less-powerful quake in Tonga also occurred Sunday. It, too, is believed to be unrelated to those in Ecuador and Japan, reports SBS. Despite this, an increase in global seismic activity in recent years is still cause for concern.

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Tags
plate tectonics, earthquakes, and volcanoes

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