Vanuatu Quake: 'Ring Of Fire' Nation Rattled By 6.1 Magnitude Earthquake [VIDEO]

on February 28, 2013 2:39 PM EST

Vanuatu Quake
Vanuatu is likely to experience another quake this year because of their placement within the seismically active zone known as the "ring of fire." (Photo: Reuters)

The Vanuatu quake that occurred on Thursday rocked the small Pacific island nation with a 6.1 magnitude force, but so far no serious damage or injuries have been reported. The Vanuatu quake struck at a death of nine miles but did not generate any tsunami or tsunami warnings. Vanuatu is located in a seismically active region known as the "ring of fire" and, on average, experiences three 7.0 magnitude quakes each year.

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The Vanuatu quake is just one of many seismic events that will occur along the "ring of fire." The ring, as defined by geologists, is immense and contains the friction points of many of the tectonic plates that make up the surface of the Earth. It stretches from South America, where the Nazca plate dips beneath the South American plate, pushing up the Andes mountains, and then north up along the coasts of Central America and Mexico.

 In the Pacific Northwest the tiny Juan de Fuca plate, formed at a spreading center just to the west, sinks beneath the North American plate and is responsible for much of the seismic activity felt in the Pacific Northwest.

The "fire" portion of the region's name comes from the fact that the "ring of fire" contains three-fourths of the active volcanoes in the world, including the infamous Mt. St. Helens.

The Vanuatu quake comes as no surprise to geologists who study the region. The U.S. Geological Survey noted that Vanuatu, which is located around 1,100 miles from northern Australia and has a population of around 224,000 people, is situated near "one of the most seismically active areas of the world due to high rates of convergence between the Australia and Pacific plates."

Fortunately, there were no casualties during the Vanuatu quake on Thursday but the nearby Solomon Islands were not so lucky when a magnitude 8.0 quake struck there earlier this month. Six people died during that earthquake and a small tsunami was generated but did not damage nearby islands. Here's a brief look at the "ring of fire."

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