The world as we know it is subject to constant change. Some of them are caused by the internal outside of the earth, as for example is the case of volcanoes or earthquakes and depending on the area of the planet where we are, we can appreciate these phenomena to a greater or lesser extent. Do you want to know which are the main volcanic and seismic regions of the world ?
The origin of volcanoes and earthquakes
The earth’s crust, both oceanic and continental, is divided into different fragments called tectonic plates, which are in a slow and continuous movement. When plates move, separate or collide with each other, in the first place, they can lead to earthquakes or earthquakes , sudden movements of the earth’s crust and mantle due to the release of accumulated energy. Second, the collision can produce an overlap of one plate on the other.This causes the sinking plate to partially melt due to the high temperatures that exist inside the earth, so that the molten material or magma can come to the surface through volcanoes. This movement would also explain the formation of mountains and other types of reliefs.
Therefore, we can warn that earthquakes and volcanoes are not distributed on the earth’s surface in a random and casual way, but that their location generally coincides with the edges of the tectonic plates . In this way, to know the main seismic and volcanic areas of the world, it will be necessary to know in the first place, where the tectonic plates are located.
There are seven main tectonic plates and seven secondary tectonic plates, the former being larger than the latter. The main tectonic plates are:
- South American Plate : occupies 9 million km², encompassing South America and a portion of the South Atlantic Ocean.
- North American Plate : it occupies North America, Greenland, the Bahamas, the Cuban archipelagos, the western part of the Atlantic Ocean, part of the Glacial Ocean and the Siberian territory.
- Pacific Plate : it is the largest layer on the planet and as its name suggests, it covers a large part of the Pacific Ocean.
- Eurasian Plate : covers Eurasia with the exception of India, Arabia and a part of the North Atlantic Ocean.
- Australian Plate – Covers the Indian subcontinent and India’s border with China and Nepal, part of the Indian Ocean, Melanesia, New Zealand, and Australia.
- Antarctic Plate : occupies Antarctica.
- African Plate : covers the African continent.
As for the secondary plates we can list the following:
- Plate of coconuts : located in the west of Central America.
- Nazca plate : it occupies Chile, Peru, Ecuador and a part of Colombia.
- Philippine Plate : it is located to the east of the Philippine islands.
- Arabian plate : occupies the Arabian peninsula.
- Scottish Plate : This plate is oceanic and is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Antarctic glacier.
- Juan de Fuca plate : located just on the northern edge of the North American plate.
- Caribbean Plate : covers the Caribbean Sea, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama.
There are about 500 active volcanoes in the world , such as El Kilauea, located in Hawaii, Ol Doinyo Lengai, located in Africa or the Santa Ana volcano, in Ecuador. These are distributed among five main volcanic zones :
- The Circumpacific volcanic zone: it coincides with the Pacific Ring of Fire, so that, in this area, just as there is strong seismic activity, there is strong volcanic activity.
- The Mediterranean-Asian volcanic zone: it expands from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, finding some volcanoes known as Etna and Stromboli, in Italy or Almería -in the south-east- and Olot -no-northeast- of the Iberian Peninsula.
- The Indica volcanic zone: surrounds the Indian Ocean and links with the Circumpacific volcanic zone, including several islands with volcanic activity.
- The African volcanic zone : it extends from Mozambique to Turkey, a wide area of land in which volcanoes as representative as Kilimanjaro are located.
- The Atlantic volcanic zone: it extends along the center of the Atlantic Ocean, with volcanic activity being found in the Atlantic ridge, in the Madeira and Salvajes Islands, in the Azores and Canary Islands, and in some northern islands such as Jan Mayen Island. .
As in the case of earthquakes, the magnitude of a volcanic explosion can vary, there are some explosions that have caused little damage, while others have caused major catastrophes. The largest recorded explosion was in Indonesia on Mount Tambora, in 1815, killing 71,000 people. Here we explain which are the most dangerous volcanoes in the world .
There are three seismic belts in the world, the main seismic zones of the planet are:
- The Pacific Ring of Fire: it is located on several tectonic plates so it is in continuous tension, giving rise to intense seismic and volcanic activity. The countries affected are Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Central America, Mexico, Bolivia, Argentina, the US, Canada, Russia, Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, New Guinea and New Zealand. Here you can learn more about what is the Pacific Ring of Fire .
- The Trans-Asian belt: it occupies the Himalayas, Iran, Turkey, the Mediterranean Sea and the South of Spain.
- The belt located in the center of the Atlantic Ocean .
The countries encompassed by these belts are, therefore, those most affected by seismic activity. While it is true that the effects produced by an earthquake or earthquake will depend on its magnitude, thus, while some are almost imperceptible or only produce very light tremors, others can cause destruction and great damage to buildings and structures. In fact, the world’s largest earthquake to date occurred in Chile in 1960, killing 1,655 people and destroying 2,000,000 homes.