The Ring of Fire is the site of mountain ranges, along with volcanoes and earthquakes. The Andes in South America, the Cascade Range of North America, and the Southern Alps of New Zealand are all associated with the Ring of Fire.
The Ring of Fire is a string of volcanoes and sites of seismic activity, or earthquakes, around the edges of the Pacific Ocean.
The Ring of Fire isnt quite a circular ring. Its shaped more like a 40,000-kilometer (25,000-mile) horseshoe. A string of 452 volcanoes stretches from the southern tip of South America, up along the coast of North America, across the Bering Strait, down through Japan, and into New Zealand.
The Ring of Fire is the result of plate tectonics. The edges of several tectonic plates meet along the Ring of Fire, resulting in a convergent boundary, a divergent boundary, or a transform boundary.
A convergent plate boundary is formed by tectonic plates crashing into each other. Convergent boundaries are often subduction zones, where the heavier plate slips under the lighter plate. Subduction zones are frequently sites of volcanoes, as the heavier plate melts back into the Earths mantle.
Mount St. Helens, in the U.S. state of Washington, is an active volcano in the Ring of Fire. Below Mount St. Helens is a convergent boundary between the Juan de Fuca Plate and the North American Plate. The small Juan de Fuca Plate is associated with the massive, heavy Pacific Plate. Both the Juan de Fuca and Pacific plates are being subducted beneath the North American Plate.
A divergent boundary is formed by tectonic plates pulling apart from each other. Divergent boundaries are the site of seafloor spreading. Seafloor spreading is the process of magma welling up in the rift as the old crust pulls itself in opposite directions. Cold seawater cools the magma, creating new crust.
The East Pacific Rise is a site of major seafloor spreading in the Ring of Fire. The East Pacific Rise is located on the divergent boundary between the Pacific Plate and the Cocos Plate (west of Central America), the Nazca Plate (west of South America), and the Antarctic Plate.
A transform boundary is formed by two tectonic plates sliding next to each other. Transform boundaries are often the site of earthquakes in the Ring of Fire.
The coast of the U.S. state of California is prone to earthquakes. It lies on the transform boundary between the North American Plate, which is moving south, and the Pacific Plate, which is moving north.
The Ring of Fire is the home of most of the active volcanoes on Earth, most of them located on the rings eastern edge. Mount Ruapehu in New Zealand is one of the more active volcanoes in the Ring of Fire, with yearly minor eruptions and major eruptions occurring about every 50 years. It stands 2,797 meters (9,177 feet) high.
Krakatoa, an island in Indonesia, erupts less often than Mount Ruapehu, but much more spectacularly. Beneath Krakatoa, the Australian Plate is being subducted beneath the Eurasian Plate. An eruption in 1883 destroyed the entire island, sending volcanic gas, ash, and rocks as high as 80 kilometers (50 miles) in the air. A new island volcano, Anak Krakatau, has been forming with minor eruptions ever since.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry active volcano Noun
volcano that has had a recorded eruption since the last glacial period, about 10,000 years ago.
Anak Krakatau Noun
active volcanic island on the site of the former island of Krakatoa in the Sunda Strait in Indonesia.
Andes Mountains Noun
mountain range extending along the western coast of South America.
Bering Strait Noun
narrow body of water connecting the Bering Sea and the Arctic Ocean, separating the continents of North America and Asia.
Cascade Range Noun
mountains extending along the northwest coast of North America.
edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.
Encyclopedic Entry: coast convergent plate boundary Noun
area where two or more tectonic plates bump into each other. Also called a collision zone.
rocky outermost layer of Earth or other planet.
Encyclopedic Entry: crust divergent boundary Noun
area where two or more tectonic plates are moving away from each other. Also called an extensional boundary.
the sudden shaking of Earth's crust caused by the release of energy along fault lines or from volcanic activity.
East Pacific Rise Noun
mid-ocean ridge where several tectonic plates are moving apart from one another.
release of material from an opening in the Earth's crust.
C-shaped thick metal sheet nailed to a horse's foot to protect it from damaging surfaces.
body of land surrounded by water.
Encyclopedic Entry: island Krakatoa Noun
island in Indonesia, site of major volcanic eruption in 1883. Also called Krakatau.
molten, or partially melted, rock beneath the Earth's surface.
Encyclopedic Entry: magma mantle Noun
middle layer of the Earth, made of mostly solid rock.
Encyclopedic Entry: mantle massive Adjective
very large or heavy.
Mount Ruapehu Noun
volcano in New Zealand.
Mount St. Helens Noun
active volcano in the U.S. state of Washington. (2,549 meters/8,364 feet)
plate tectonics Noun
movement and interaction of the Earth's plates.
Ring of Fire Noun
horseshoe-shaped string of volcanoes and earthquake sites around edges of the Pacific Ocean.
Encyclopedic Entry: Ring of Fire rock Noun
natural substance composed of solid mineral matter.
seafloor spreading Noun
rift in underwater mountain range where new oceanic crust is formed.
Encyclopedic Entry: seafloor spreading seawater Noun
salty water from an ocean or sea.
having to do with earthquakes.
Southern Alps Noun
mountain range on the South Island of New Zealand.
dramatic and impressive.
to pull downward or beneath something.
subduction zone Noun
area where one tectonic plate slides under another.
tectonic plate Noun
large, moveable segment of the Earth's crust.
transform boundary Noun
site of tectonic plates sliding next to each other in opposite directions. Also called a transform fault.
volcanic ash Noun
fragments of lava less than 2 millimeters across.
Encyclopedic Entry: volcanic ash volcanic gas Noun
gas such as water vapor or carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere by a volcano.
an opening in the Earth's crust, through which lava, ash, and gases erupt, and also the cone built by eruptions.
Encyclopedic Entry: volcano well up Verb
to swell or build up.