Earthquakes are common around the Ring of Fire, home to 75 percent of the world’s volcanoes and the source of 90 percent of earthquakes.
Increased activity around the Ring of Fire usually prompts fears the ‘Big One’ is coming, but there is no need for alarm.
This activity, while significant, has fortunately not resulted in any damage or serious injuries today.
The biggest quake to strike today was a magnitude 5.0, in Kainantu, Papua New Guinea, but was too deep below the Earth’s surface to cause damage.
Indonesia, the island nation still reeling from a deadly quake in August, saw a quake near Abepura, registering at 4.6, which was too deep to wreak havoc.
Japan, which has seen a spate of deadly natural events this year, has had two quakes today — the biggest registering at 4.4, east of Tomakomai.
Stateside, Alaska has seen a total of eight tremors today, though none of them big enough to cause any damage, the strongest registering at 3.3 just near Tok.
Earthquake-prone California has seen two in the past 24 hours, but again only small ones, with the biggest only 2.8 near Pinnacles.
California is the home of ‘Big One’ fears, so any increased seismicity in the area usually causes some alarm.
What is the ‘Big One’?
Around times of increased seismic activity, talk of the ‘Big One’ often increases.
The Big One is a hypothetical earthquake of a magnitude 8.0 or greater.
The Big One, according to the hypothesis, will occur along the San Andreas Fault, a 750-mile-long tectonic boundary through California.
A study published in 2006 in the journal Nature found the San Andreas fault has reached a sufficient stress level for an earthquake of magnitude greater than 7.0 to occur.
The paper concluded: “The information available suggests that the fault is ready for the next big earthquake but exactly when the triggering will happen and when the earthquake will occur we cannot tell.
“It could be tomorrow or it could be 10 years or more from now.”
What created the Ring of Fire?
The ring is the result of tectonic plates — huge slabs of the Earth’s crust which fit together like a puzzle to make up the earth’s surface.
The plates are not fixed, but constantly moving on top of a layer of solid and molten (liquid) rock, called the Earth’s mantle.
Sometimes, these plates collide, move apart, or slide against each other, which results in an earthquake.
The volcanoes form when one plate is pushed under another into the mantle (through a process known as subduction), releasing pressure and causing the molten rock to push up through the Earth.
The Ring of Fire is a result of the earth’s oceanic plates and continental plates interacting, which has led to the massive activity which is associated with the area.