The ring of fire is basically the geologically active circle around the great Pacific Ocean. Every land mass on the outside of that circle, North and South America, Asia, Russia and Australia encircle, or are located within, an extremely active portion of the globe. Fault zones, within the ocean basin and on the surrounding land, are areas where earthquakes, volcanoes, deep marine trenches and other topographical features are affected by the deep “fires” of Earth’s interior.
Where people live, the biosphere, it must be realized is a thin circle of living organisms upon the surface of a huge planet. The thin film of life sits atop geologic subterranean features that created the planet from the inside out.
Creation is not the result of a quiet stillness but of a ever-active churning of inner earth. When pressures build up, a volcano blast is the result. When fault zones fall or slip, often an earthquake results. Every day there are about fifty earthquakes on planet Earth. Most earthquakes go unnoticed. Only those of a magnitude that cause damage or generate tsunamis are of real consequence.
When they do rock the inner islands or outer continents of the ring of fire, these geologic creative forces create the greatest natural disasters known to humanity (short of extinction event meteor strikes), which affect people, property and placement of whole cities. The great Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004 displaced millions of people and killed an estimated 300,000 people.
Tsunami events occur when a submarine or near-shore volcano generates enormous waves moving across open sea. In 1883 the resulting blasts of Indonesian volcano Krakatau were documented to be up to 125 feet tall, sweeping across islands and wreaking havoc across every land mass in the wave’s path.
For earthquakes and tsunamis, locating fewer housing and business districts close to shoreline saves many lives. Also of imperative need is constantly updating and providing sophisticated prediction systems, warning alerts, evacuation plans and disaster relief.
Even with all the technology in place to detect a tsunami before it strikes, there is a growing threat of more destruction from tsunamis and earthquakes due to climate change. Warming oceans, changes in pressure, leaking methane beneath the ocean and more vulnerable coastlines due to lost outlying natural barriers are all factors. All factors that affect geologic stress and strain do affect both ocean and land.
The ring of fire displays just how enormously powerful natural forces are.They offer people the chance to learn from the past, prepare for the future and to continue to protect vulnerable life. They serve as a reminder that in some circumstances people have no control over the Earth. However, people do have some choice as to what they choose to do to help protect and preserve such things as habitats, threatened areas and vulnerable areas. People do also have a choice to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gases released in the atmosphere, which some scientists believe are a new factor in geologic activity.
People also have a choice in what they do to perfect the ability to know the science and preparedness for all the events ahead in the volatile ring of fire. With the ever-burning fires of creation at Earth’s core that affect the thin biosphere, it is never a question of if, but when, the next seismic event will rock the firmament.