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The Ring of Fire is a roughly circular section in the Pacific Ocean that rings the outer edge of Japan and runs round to the west coast of America [1]. It is the most seismically active area on the whole planet; the Ring of Fire is responsible for more earthquakes than any other place on Earth. It is riddled with fault lines, and is the place where several different seismic plates meet and then slide over, under or across each other. Many of these fault lines throw out earthquakes regularly, often hitting Japan with a range of tremors that range from lightly rumbling ones that rank a 5 on the Richter scale all the way up to devastating ones like the 9.0 Tohoku earthquake that battered the country in 2005.

There is one particular fault line though, the Cascadia fault line, that has remained quiet for an awfully long time. Most earthquake zones have their own standard period of repeatable activity; some will have a quake every fifty years, others will have them every hundred years. The Cascadia fault line has one roughly every 240 years according to Chris Goldfinger, an eminent seismologist [2]. It has now been 317 years without a peep.

This is not good news. The Cascadia Faultline is one of the most dangerous quake zones in the world, and the last time that it went off, it launched a 9.0 earthquake. If it hasn’t gone off, that simply means that the pressure is building, and the more that the pressure builds, then the larger the quake is going to be when it releases that pressure. According to FEMA, when it goes off, it will trigger a quake that will be over 9 on the Richter scale, something almost unprecedented, and this is the bad part, it will catalyse a tsunami that will be around a 100 feet tall when it hits the west coast of America. It is highly unlikely that there would be much of the west coast left after about 24 hours.

Any students looking to study Geography or Earth Sciences should look into earthquakes in great detail; Geography students can look at how earthquakes shape certain economies like Japan or that of San Andreas, while Earth Scientists can look at the science behind shockwaves. This can also extend to those students thinking about studying Physics or Engineering who should look at longitudinal waves, how S waves and P waves can hit buildings, and how buildings can be designed to counter these problems. 

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