The Ring of Fire is a 25,000 mile (40,000 km) horseshoe-shaped area of intense volcanic and seismic activity that follows the edges of the Pacific Ocean. Receiving its fiery name from the 452 active and dormant volcanoes that lie within it, the Ring of Fire includes 75% of the world’s active volcanoes and is also responsible for 90% of the world’s earthquakes.
Some of the famous volcanic belt involve-The Andean Volcanic Belt, South America;Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, Mexico; Cascade Volcanic Arc, United States of America; Aleutian Islands, Alaska; Mt. Fuji, Japan; Krakatoa, Indonesia Island Arc; Mt. Ruapehu, Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand.
Volcanic activity along the western edge of the Pacific “Ring of Fire” gave rise to a tiny island in late November 2013. Since then, the new island has fused with nearby Nishinoshima and continued to grow. When it was last measured by the Japanese coast guard in 2013, the island covered 1.89 square kilometers (0.73 square miles). Its highest point was 100 meters (328 feet) above sea level.
A false-color image (top) was acquired on June 21, 2015, by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8. It combines shortwave infrared, near infrared, and green light (OLI bands 7-5-3). With this band combination, the plume of steam and sulfur dioxide appears white. Sea water is navy blue, and hot spots of lava are red. The lava is flowing toward the southeast part of the island through tubes that prevent OLI from detecting it until it emerges in a lava delta at the edge of the island.
The island, measured 2.45 square kilometers (0.95 square miles) in 2015, which offers ecologists a unique opportunity to study how life colonizes new islands. Ocean currents and bird waste will likely play key roles in paving the way for new ecosystems. Plants will arrive via currents, meanwhile, birds will bring the building blocks of soil by dropping waste, feathers, and bits of food on the otherwise barren volcanic rock.
AcnowledgemetsThe author is thankful to Asahi Shimbun (2014, November 19) Still-smoldering Nishinoshima island in Ogasawara chain expected to keep growing. Accessed December 2, 2014. Global Volcanism Program (2014, November 19) Nishinoshima. Accessed December 2, 2014Image courtesy-NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.