SEVERAL volcanic eruptions have hit the headlines in 2018, sparking fears that volcanic activity may be on the rise. Here is everything you need to know about which Ring of Fire volcano will erupt next.
The horseshoe-shaped Ring of Fire, which is 25,000 miles-long, is known for its chain of volcanoes.
The Ring is a huge are in the basin of the Pacific Ocean and is said to be the location for 90 per cent of the world’s earthquakes.
Some of the volcanoes which have erupted along the Ring of Fire this year include Shinmoedake volcano in Japan, Fuego volcano in Guatemala, Cleveland volcano in the Aleutian Isles, Mount Mayon in the Philippines and most recently, the Mount Agung volcano in Bali.
Kilauea volcano in Hawaii has also been wreaking havoc for two months, as thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes as lava blanketed the surrounding areas.
However, this particular volcano is not generally considered to be a part of the Ring.
Is volcano activity on the rise?
Dr Sarah Brown, senior research associate in volcanology at the University of Bristol, said volcanic activity is not anything out of the ordinary.
She told Express.co.uk: “Many volcanoes are making the news at the moment, but a few high profile eruptions does not mean that volcanic activity is on the rise. In fact, we think that volcanic activity is pretty much steady.
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“There’s always about 10 to 20 volcanoes erupting around the world, but we don’t hear about most of these because they’re remote, or small, regular events.
“Some of the prominent eruptions this year have occurred at volcanoes that have been actively erupting for years.”
Bill McGuire, Professor of Geophysical & Climate Hazards at UCL added: “As a volcanologist, it would be great for me if we were seeing an increase in volcanic activity.
“Sadly, the current activity, while eye-catching and news-worthy, is not outside the bounds of normal behaviour. Around fifty volcanoes are in eruption every year.
Volcano eruption update: The Ring of Fire stretches 25,000 miles
“Some, like Hawaii’s Kilauea, are in almost constant eruption, while others may be erupting for the first time in decades or even centuries.”
Which Ring of Fire volcano will erupt next?
Dr McGuire said there is no way to predict when the Ring of Fire will strike.
Instead, he listed volcanos that are currently restless or may be in the early stages of bigger eruptions.
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These include Kadovar in Papua New Guinea, Ibu, Dukono and Sinabung in Indonesia, Telica in Nicaragua, Copahue on the Chile and Argentina border, Sabancaya in Peru and Yasur in Vanuatu.
He said: “Trying to decide which ‘Ring of Fire’ volcano will erupt next is a bit like trying to pick the winning numbers in the lottery.
“However, no volcano erupts without warning signs that we can detect if we are looking.
“For magma to reach the surface, it must break rock, which causes small earthquakes that can be detected using seismometers.
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“It also needs to make space for itself, which causes the ground surface to swell. This can be detected using GPS and other methods.
“Volcanoes that show these early signs are said to be restless. This restlessness may end in an eruption, but sometimes a volcano will return to its slumbers without erupting.”
Dr Brown added dormant volcanoes are the “most dangerous” as there is no warning for people living nearby.
She said: “We can’t say which Ring of Fire volcano will erupt next. But it’s called the Ring of Fire for a reason – there are always volcanoes in eruption here.
“Many have regular activity, that the local populations have learned to live with. Others have been dormant for a long time, and these may be the most dangerous as people living near them may be least prepared to deal with an eruption.
“Of course, efforts are made to monitor as many volcanoes as possible to allow forecasts of activity and respond to developing volcanic emergencies.”