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Ring of Fire: Location & Facts

Melissa Bialowas, Mary Ellen Ellis
  • Author
    Melissa Bialowas

    Melissa Bialowas has taught preschool through high school for over 20 years. She specializes in math, science, gifted and talented, and special education. She has a Master's Degree in Education from Western Governor's University and a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from Southern Methodist University. She is a certified teacher in Texas as well as a trainer and mentor throughout the United States.

  • Instructor
    Mary Ellen Ellis

    Mary Ellen is a science and education writer with a background in chemistry. She holds an M.S. in analytical chemistry and has worked as a high school science teacher.

Learn the definition and meaning of the Ring of Fire. Discover the Ring of Fire's location on a map. Explore interesting facts about the Ring of Fire. Updated: 10/21/2021

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Ring of Fire Definition

The Ring of Fire is a path around the edges of the Pacific Ocean that contains the majority of the Earth's volcanoes. Technically this is not a ring or circular shape, but more of a horseshoe shape. Around 90% of all earthquakes and 75% of all active volcanoes occur in this area. Sometimes this area is called the Circum-Pacific Belt or Pacific Ring of Fire.

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Where is the Ring of Fire Located?

The Ring of Fire is over 25,000 miles (40,000 km) long and runs from New Zealand through Japan, across the Bering Strait, along the west coast of North America, and down to the southern tip of South America. This covers four different continents: Oceania, Asia, North America, and South America. There are many island chains along the ring, including: Tonga, New Hebrides, Indonesian, Philippines, Japan, Kuril, and Aleutians.

This map displays many of the island chains and ocean trenches in the Ring of Fire.

Ring of Fire

The Ring of Fire follows the boundaries of many tectonic plates including the Philippine, North America, Nazca, Indian-Australian, Cocos, Juan de Fuca, and Pacific. These are mostly convergent boundaries where one plate is going under another plate. As the plate moves down, the friction makes the rocks melt and become magma. This large source of magma so close to the surface makes an ideal condition for volcanic activity.

Converging boundaries also create ocean trenches. This happens through the process of subduction. Subduction means the downward and sideways movement of a tectonic plate. The deepest ocean trench is the Mariana Trench which is also a part of the Ring of Fire.

The Mariana Trench is part of the Ring of Fire.

Mariana Trench

The boundary between the Pacific and North American plates is called a transform boundary, which is when two plates rub against each other. This creates many earthquakes as the tension builds up and is released.

The Ring of Fire has produced two different mountain ranges: the Cascade Mountains in western North America and the Andes Mountains in western South America.

The Ring of Fire goes around the plate boundaries as seen here.

Plate Tectonics, Ring of Fire

The Ring of Fire touches many countries including:

  • Antarctica
  • Bolivia
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Fiji
  • Guatemala
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • Kiribati
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Micronesia
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • Palau
  • Panama
  • Papa New Guinea
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Russia
  • Samoa
  • Singapore
  • Solomon Islands
  • Taiwan
  • Tina
  • Tuvalu
  • United States of America

Map of Ring of Fire

There are many volcanoes in this horseshoe shaped region.

Ring of Fire

The Ring of Fire is known for earthquakes and more than 450 volcanoes. Some of the world's largest and most dangerous volcanoes are located in the Ring of Fire. These include:

  • Anak Krakatau
  • Arenal
  • Cotopoxi
  • Galeras
  • Krakatoa
  • Mauna Loa
  • Mayon
  • Merapi
  • Mount Fuji
  • Mount Saint Helens
  • Paricutun
  • Popocatepetl
  • Sakurajima
  • Santa Maria
  • Taal

In 2018, a major eruption happened in the Arak Krakatau volcano. This took place mostly underwater and caused larger problems as the side of the volcano collapsed in the eruption and the displaced dirt was pushed into the water. This created enormous ocean waves which lead to a deadly tsunami in Indonesia.

A majority of the earthquakes happen in this area and are known for many powerful and deadly events. These include:

  • Chili in 1960 (9.5 resulting in 1,655 dead, 3,000 injured, 2 million homeless)
  • Alaska in 1964 (9.2 with 131 dead)
  • Chile in 2010 (8.8 with 525 dead, 25 missing)
  • Japan in 2011 (9.1 resulting in 18,000 dead and several thousand victims missing)

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Ring of Fire located?

The Ring of Fire makes a horseshoe shape around the Pacific plate. It goes from New Zealand up through Japan, across the Bering Straight, and down both North and South America.

What is the meaning of Ring of Fire?

It is a large area on the Earth's crust that has the majority of the world's volcanoes and earthquakes. It traces the boundaries of the Pacific plate.

Why is it called the Ring of Fire?

The majority of the Earth's active volcanoes are in the Ring of Fire. These repeated eruptions in the same predictable areas helped give it this name.

What features occur at the Ring of Fire?

The features include many active and dormant volcanoes, earthquakes, and ocean trenches. They are all along multiple plate boundaries as well.

Is the Philippines in the Ring of Fire?

The Philippines are just one of the island chains in the Ring of Fire. Others include Tonga, New Hebrides, Indonesian, Japan, Kuril, and Aleutians.

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