Seismic Activity In 'Ring Of Fire' Potentially Signals 'Big' Quake

The 'Ring of Fire' has seen a lot of action over the past few weeks - earthquakes have hit Japan, Mexico and Taiwan with volcanoes in the region also going off.

The seismic activity has already led to deaths, and scientists have warned that it could mean one massive earthquake is on the way, the Mail Online has reported.

Researchers from California believe that the series of tremors around the Ring of Fire- a geologically active zone around the Pacific Ocean - could indicate that a big quake is due to hit soon.

The research, published in the journal Science Advances, looked at 101 major earthquakes around the Ring of Fire between 1990 and 2016 to reach its conclusion.


Thorne Lay, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz, said: "Based on the clustering of earthquakes in space and time, the area that has just slipped is actually more likely to have another failure."

He added that despite the stress on one earthquake area reducing to below 'failure level', "the surrounding areas have been pushed towards failure in many cases, giving rise to aftershocks and the possibility of an adjacent large rupture sooner rather than later."

While places like Taiwan, Guam and Japan are quite far apart, the professor has suggested looking at earlier seismic events to see if small earthquakes were triggered as seismic waves went by.

Lay said that a 'cascade of failures' in the region could hint at a larger seismic event, although he stressed that it isn't clear yet.

"Until that type of analysis is done, causal connection between the events is very speculative," Lay said.

"Earthquakes are happening frequently in the Ring of Fire, and some apparent space-time clustering could arise from purely random (non-interacting) activity."Workers survey the damage from the Taiwanese earthquake. Credit: PA
Workers survey the damage from the Taiwanese earthquake. Credit: PA

The academic study is a timely one. The Ring of Fire was struck repeatedly by earthquakes in the first two weeks of this month - following at least four natural disasters in the region in January.

17 people were killed and over 180 people injured after a 6.4 magnitude quake struck the east coast of Taiwan on 6 February.

This past Tuesday the US territory of Guam experienced tremors of magnitudes of up to 5.7, while three earthquakes have hit Japan since last weekend.

Despite all this activity, scientists have said that such activity is normal for the Ring of Fire and dampened fears of a "domino effect" triggering a bigger quake.

Toshiyasu Nagao, head of Tokai University's Earthquake Prediction Research Centre, told Japan Times: "The Pacific Rim is in a period of activity.

"In terms of volcanic history, however the current activity is still regarded as normal."

Currently, the string of events in the Ring of Fire aren't thought to be connected. No doubt scientists will be watching the region closely

Featured Image Credit: PA

Chris Ogden

Chris Ogden is a journalist at LADbible. He graduated from the University of East Anglia with degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing before completing his NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism. Chris has previously written for the independent culture magazine The Skinny, among other publications.

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