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Has Pacific Ring of Fire activity returned
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Has Pacific Ring of Fire activity returned

A flurry of earthquakes has hit Earth's Pacific plate over the past week, renewing fears a massive tremor is on the way after four disasters jolted the region in January.

Quakes have hit near Japan, Guam and Taiwan around the planet's so-called 'Ring of Fire', a horseshoe-shaped zone that is a hotbed for tectonic and volcanic activity.

Some have suggested the frequency and proximity of the tremors are signs of a bigger earthquake to come.

Experts have claimed events around the Ring of Fire are rarely linked and that in most cases adjacent disasters are a coincidence.

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Following from January's events, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake (pictured) struck Taiwan's east coast on February 6, killing 17 people and injuring at least 180. Some have suggested the frequency and proximity of the tremors are signs of a bigger earthquake to come

Following from January's events, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake (pictured) struck Taiwan's east coast on February 6, killing 17 people and injuring at least 180. Some have suggested the frequency and proximity of the tremors are signs of a bigger earthquake to come

After a series of quakes hit the Ring of Fire last month, a 6.4 quake struck Taiwan's east coast on February 6, killing 17 people and injuring at least 180.

A series of tremors reaching magnitude 5.7, 5.6, 5.4 and 4.9 shook the US island territory of Guam early on Tuesday. 

And since February 11, three earthquakes have struck Japan: A 4.8 magnitude quake 103 kilometres from Hachijo, a 4.5 magnitude quake 55 kilometres from Nemuro, and a 4.5 magnitude earthquake 103 kilometres from Tokunoshima.

But scientists say such activity is normal for the Ring of Fire, adding that there is no chance of a 'domino effect' triggering a larger quake.

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

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

Dr Janine Krippner, a volcanologist at Concord University in Athens, West Virginia, tweeted: 'It's not referred to as the "ring of fire" because it sits there doing nothing ... it is normal to have so much activity.'

On January 22, Mount Mayon in the Philippines sent lava more than 600 metres into the air, and over 61,000 people were forced to evacuate from nearby villages as thick smoke descended from the mountain

On January 22, Mount Mayon in the Philippines sent lava more than 600 metres into the air, and over 61,000 people were forced to evacuate from nearby villages as thick smoke descended from the mountain

At least four natural disasters jolted the Pacific Rim in January, including a 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Kodiak, Alaska, which sparked a tsunami warning.

A 6.4 quake hit Indonesia the same week, and Mount Kusatsu-Shirane in Japan erupted, killing one and injuring 15.

The Indonesian island of Java was hit by the 6.4 magnitude earthquake on January 23, forcing thousands to evacuate

The Indonesian island of Java was hit by the 6.4 magnitude earthquake on January 23, forcing thousands to evacuate

Also in January, Mount Mayon in the Philippines sent lava 600 metres (1,970 ft) into the air, forcing 61,000 people to evacuate from nearby villages as thick smoke descended from the mountain.

Some researchers, however, said that this string of events in January were not connected.

'There's not really likely to be any connection,' Professor Chris Elders, a geologist at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, told The New Daily. 

'While they do indeed have the same origin - the Ring of Fire - these recent events are a coincidence. 

'The region itself is a breeding ground for seismic activity.'

Roughly 90 per cent of the world's earthquakes occur in the Ring of Fire - a Pacific region home to three in four of the world's active volcanoes. 

A 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck off Alaska's Kodiak Island early on Tuesday, January 23, prompting a tsunami warning for a large swath of the state's coast and sending some residents fleeing to higher ground. Pictured are residents in Kodiak, Alaska driving for higher ground

A 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck off Alaska's Kodiak Island early on Tuesday, January 23, prompting a tsunami warning for a large swath of the state's coast and sending some residents fleeing to higher ground. Pictured are residents in Kodiak, Alaska driving for higher ground

WHAT IS EARTH'S 'RING OF FIRE'?

Earth's so-called 'Ring of Fire' is a horseshoe-shaped geological disaster zone that is a hot bed for tectonic and volcanic activity.

Roughly 90 per cent of the world's earthquakes occur in the belt, which is also home to more than 450 volcanoes. 

The seismic region stretches along the Pacific Ocean coastlines, where the Pacific Plate grinds against other plates that form the Earth's crust.

It loops from New Zealand to Chile, passing through the coasts of Asia and the Americas on the way. 

In total, the loop makes up a 25,000-mile (40,000-kilometre) -long zone prone to frequent earthquakes and eruptions.

The region is susceptible to disasters because it is home to a vast number of 'subduction zones', areas where tectonic plates overlap.

Earthquakes are triggered when these plates scrape or slide underneath one another, and when that happens at sea it can spawn tsunamis. 

The ring loops from New Zealand to Chile, passing through the coasts of Asia and the Americas on the way.

The region is susceptible to disasters because it is home to a vast number of 'subduction zones', areas where tectonic plates overlap. 

Following from January's events, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Taiwan's east coast on February 6, causing a hotel to collapse and injuring at least 180 people and killing 17.

Pacific Ring of Fire active today. #switch2sendai #earthquake #volcano - PH : Mayon Volcano erupted, 1,000s evacuees- Japan: Volcano causes avalanche, one death - Indonesia: 5.3 earthquake jolts Jakarta, buildings swayed- Alaska: 7.9 Magnitude earthquake led to tsunami alert. pic.twitter.com/q1rz0Dbvxr

— UNISDR (@unisdr) January 23, 2018