Where Do Volcanoes Occur?

Is there a volcano in your back yard? Probably not, unless you live near the Ring of Fire.

The Ring of Fire is a zone that is shaped like a horseshoe. It circles around the coastal areas of the Pacific Ocean for about 40,000 kilometers. It runs near the coasts of three continents: North and South America and Asia. This region is called the Ring of Fire for a good reason. Seventy-five percent of the earth's active and dormant volcanoes are located in that area.

Why have so many volcanoes formed along the Ring of Fire? The answer is plate tectonics. This area is a subduction zone. A subduction zone is where two plate boundaries meet. When this happens, one plate is subducted, or pulled under the other one. The bottom plate sinks into the mantle and melts. Magma is formed. The magma then rises through the plate on top. Volcanoes form along areas called volcanic arcs in the upper plate parallel to the subduction zone.

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