The Ring of Fire
The Ring of Fire is an area where large numbers of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. In a 40,000 km (25,000 mi) horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and/or plate movements. The Ring of Fire has 452 volcanoes and is home to over 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes. About 90% of the world’s earthquakes and 80% of the world’s largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire. Ten percent of the world’s active volcanoes are found in Japan, which lies in a zone of extreme crustal instability. Moreover, Japan dangerously lies at the intersection of four tectonic plates; the North American Plate, the Eurasian Plate, the Pacific Plate, and the Philippine Sea Plate. These plates all meet on the island of Honshu, the largest of the many islands that comprise the country of Japan. Thus the reason why the country is extremely vulnerable to earthquakes. There are approximately 1,500 earthquakes recorded yearly in Japan, and magnitudes of four to six on the Richter scale are not uncommon. Minor tremors occur almost daily in various parts of the country, causing slight shaking of buildings. Unfortunately for me, even if I was still living in Seattle, Washington, the situation may not be any safer. A message of caution to my friends and family living in the Pacific Northwest of the United States who are unaware, the Juan De Fuca subduction zone is the only significant fault line on the Ring of Fire NOT to have experienced a major earthquake in the last 50 years. Please take precautions as natural disasters as in Japan can occur at a moment’s notice.