February 16, 2021, 10.18 PM
Infographic map for the tectonic plate Deutsche WelleInfographic map for the tectonic plate

Many volcanoes in the Ring of Fire were created through a process of subduction. And most of the planet's subduction zones happen to be located in the Ring of Fire.

What is subduction?

Subduction happens when tectonic plates shift, and one plate is shoved under another. This movement of the ocean floor produces a "mineral transmutation," which leads to the melting and solidification of magma - that is, the formation of volcanoes.

Basically, when a "downgoing" oceanic plate is shoved into a hotter mantle plate, it heats up, volatile elements mix, and this produces the magma. The magma then rises up through the overlying plate and spurts out at the surface.

If, however, the overlying plate is ocean, it can produce a chain of volcanic islands like the Marianas. This is also where we see the Earth's deepest trenches and deepest Earthquakes.

Also read: Volcanic Activity Picks Up on Mount Semeru in East Java, Indonesia

When and where were the worst earthquakes in the Ring of Fire?

The worst earthquake in the Ring of Fire - and, with it, the world - struck Chile on May 22, 1960. It was a 9.5-magnitude quake. That's according to the US Geological Survey's list of the "Largest Earthquakes in the World Since 1900."

It's closely followed by the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 (magnitude 9.2), the Northern Sumatra earthquake - also known as the Indian Ocean Tsunami - on December 26, 2004 (magnitude 9.1), and one off the East Coast of Honshu, Japan, on March 11, 2011 (magnitude 9.0), which led to a tsunami and ultimately the nuclear disaster at Fukushima.

Most of the earthquakes on the list are strictly within the Ring of Fire, and they range from magnitude 9.5 to 8.5.


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