Environment & Biodiversity

Taiwan Earthquake and the Pacific Ring of Fire

  • Taiwan experienced its most violent earthquake in at least 25 years.
  • Its earthquake sensitivity is linked to its placement within the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” which accounts for the majority of global seismic activity.
  • Taiwan is predominantly influenced by the collision of the Philippine Sea Plate with the Eurasian Plate.

What is the Pacific’s ‘Ring of Fire’?

  • The Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’, also known as the Pacific Rim or the Circum-Pacific Belt, is an area of the Pacific Ocean characterised by active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes.
  • The so-called Ring of Fire consists of volcanic arcs and oceanic trenches that partially encircle the Pacific Basin.
  • It is home to around 75% of the world’s volcanoes, totaling over 450.
  • Also, around 90% of the world’s earthquakes occur here.

It spreads

  • It stretches about 40,000 kilometres from New Zealand clockwise in a nearly circular arc that includes Tonga, the Kermadec Islands, and Indonesia.
  • It is going north to the Philippines and Japan, then east to the Aleutian Islands, and finally south down the western coasts of North and South America.

Seismic activity in the region

  • The area is situated on multiple tectonic plates, including the Pacific, Philippine, Juan de Fuca, Cocos, Nazca, and North American plates.
  • The movement of these plates, known as tectonic activity, causes an abundance of earthquakes and tsunamis in the area each year.
  • Along much of the Ring, tectonic plates collide, forming subduction zones.
  • One plate is pushed down or subducted by the other plate.
  • This is a relatively sluggish process, with movement of only one or two inches per year.
  • As this subduction occurs, rocks melt, produce magma, and travel to the Earth’s surface, resulting in volcanic activity. 

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