'Ring of Fire': Why do experts fear a catastrophe?

Could the recent seismic activity in the area be the announcement of a major earthquake?

‘Ring of Fire': Why do experts fear a catastrophe?

During this year, a strong telluric and volcanic activity has triggered panic in different cities located along the famous 'Ring of Fire'. This is a horseshoe-shaped area that goes from New Zealand to Chile and it concentrates subduction areas, which produces seismic activity.

This wave of natural events concerned members of the scientific community, responsible for monitoring seismic activity, who fear that the events of the last two months are brewing a major earthquake in some areas of the Pacific coast. On 6 February, an earthquake in Taiwan took the lives of 17 people. In the Philippines, more than 61,000 people were forced to evacuate due to the eruption of Mayon volcano on 22 January. One day after this event, an earthquake of 7.9 magnitude struck Alaska and triggered tsunami warning. Japan, Guam and Indonesia have also been shaken by similar activity.

Observing seismic and volcanic events, experts identify an undeniable activity in the Ring of Fire and warn that although the frequency and proximity of events could be a coincidence, it does not exclude that events can be related. It is at this point that some scientists try to answer the question of many: are these disasters the announcement of a massive earthquake?

As many times researchers have explained, the Ring of Fire is responsible for 90% of the seismic activity worldwide. In this area, there are three out of four active volcanoes on the planet. Such features make habitual the recording of natural events, so usually the activity is not cause of specific alarm to the scientific community.

According to Roger Bilham, University of Colorado, the planet has entered a period of constant seismic activity. The period could last at least five years because of the temperature rising in the planet’s core.

Fear in California and New Zealand

The community that lives along the area has expressed concern. In New Zealand, residents fear the eruption of a volcano or the emergence of a powerful earthquake. For this reason, in California reawakens the recurring idea of a powerful mega-earthquake.

It is not a secret that for decades scientists and seismologists have studied the possibility that a destructive earthquake, of 7 or 8 degrees of magnitude, hit the entire southern California area. In fact, every 100 years earthquakes of powerful destructive load often occur in this area that goes along the San Andreas Fault. It has been 160 years since the last seismic shock; thus, it is estimated that over the next two decades finally there will be a devastating earthquake.

Experts suggest that a telluric phenomenon of such magnitude in the area could break the San Andreas Fault from the Salton Sea, near the border with Mexico, to Monterey County. It could leave one of the largest amounts of dead and wounded people by natural disasters in the US

According to explanations of GeoNet in New Zealand, John Ristau, these natural events can occur "in any month, so it is a fairly normal activity. The events are not evenly spaced throughout the year, such as rain and other natural phenomena". Ristau added to a local chain that "these tremors will have no impact on seismic activity in New Zealand. Although, of course, there may be a large earthquake at any time "anywhere in the world.


Latin American Post | Krishna Jaramillo
Translated from “‘Anillo de Fuego’: ¿Por qué expertos temen catástrofe?”

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