How Many Active Volcanoes Are There In the Pacific Ring of Fire and How Does Subduction Produce Lava?

The Pacific Ring of Fire is home to more than half the world’s 1,500 active volcanoes.

Geologists use the term “active” to mean that a volcano may erupt again someday.

Earthquakes are also common in the Ring of Fire.

Encircling most of the Pacific Ocean, the Ring of Fire extends from New Zealand in the South Pacific, north to Asia and Japan, across the northern Pacific to Alaska, and then south along the west coasts of North, Central, and South America.

Volcanoes are more likely to occur in these areas because the edges of the tectonic plates on which the Pacific Ocean sits are slowly pushing under other ocean plates or the plates of the surrounding continents.

Geologists call this action subduction.

Subduction creates heat that melts materials inside the earth, creating magma.

The magma weighs less than the rock that surrounds it, so eventually it rises and comes out of the earth in the form of lava, the hot molten rock that is spewed from volcanoes.