What is the Pacific Ring of Fire?

The Pacific Ring of Fire is a horseshoe of tectonic activities around the Pacific, e.g. earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis.

This occurs because the Pacific plate is an oceanic plate, which means that it is smaller and denser than the continental plates surrounding it, e.g. the Eurasian plate.

As a result, this denser, smaller tectonic plate subducts below (goes underneath) the larger, less dense continental plate.

The friction caused by the subduction causes the rock to melt, which increases the pressure of the magma beneath the surface. This magma consequently forces its way upwards to the surface, causing a volcanic eruption. An example of this is the chain of volcanic islands along the rim e.g. Tonga, Fiji.

Furthermore, the violent action of the two plates rubbing together causes earthquakes, e.g. the Kobe earthquake (Japan) of 1995. In addition to this, as these earthquakes occur beneath the Pacific Ocean, water is often displaced in mass when they occur. This causes tsunamis, e.g. the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami.

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