‘Ring of Fire’ volcanos remind Asia of seismic peril

AP News | 10/12/2017 | Staff
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The horseshoe-shaped string of active volcanos bounding the Pacific Ocean has lived up to its “Ring of Fire” name in the past month, sparking mass evacuations in Indonesia and Vanuatu and now setting parts of southwestern Japan on edge. The 450 or so volcanos that make up the “Ring of Fire” are an outline of where the massive Pacific Plate is grinding against other plates that form the Earth’s crust, creating a 40,000-kilometer (25,000-mile) -long zone prone to frequent earthquakes and eruptions.

The Shinmoedake volcano in southwestern Japan started erupting Wednesday for the first time in about six years. According to Japanese broadcaster TBS, an ash plume rose 1,700 meters (5,580 feet) from the crater Thursday and ash fell on cities and towns in Miyazaki prefecture. Videos showed students wearing helmets and masks on their way to an elementary school at the foot of Shinmoedake. The Japan Meteorological Agency is warning that hot ash and gas clouds known as pyroclastic flows could reach 2 kilometers (1 mile) from the crater. It raised the volcanic alert level from 2 to 3 on a scale of 5. Level 3 warns people to not approach the volcano.

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