Earthquakes along Pacific not a precursor to a large event in California, experts say

The Ring of Fire is home to where most volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur but many of the events are not connected.

An earthquake swarm in Southern California, a 6.9-magnitude quake near Taiwan and two significant events along the Mexican coast are keeping seismologists busy, but they warn the events are not a precursor to a substantial quake or any uptick in activity across the globe.

All the quakes have occurred in the region dubbed the Ring of Fire, which is home to the most active zone for volcanoes and earthquakes.

Seismologists estimate around 90 percent of the world's earthquakes occur in the zone because of the movement of tectonic plates, but that is where the similarities end.

"The Ring of Fire was a name that was coined when someone realized there were a lot of volcanoes around the Pacific, but before plate tectonics, they couldn't explain it," world-renowned seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones said during a recent podcast. "Data shows events along the Ring of Fire are not correlated in time. We've looked for correlation across distance, and we just don't find it."


A dozen or more earthquakes can happen every day underneath the soil of the Golden State, but many go unnoticed because of their weakness and result in low magnitudes.

Experts say quakes with a magnitude of less than 2.0 can't be felt but are the most common. Earthquake damage usually isn't seen until a magnitude of 4.0 or greater is reached.

According to the National Earthquake Information Center, California experiences two or three earthquakes each year that can cause sizable damage and register a magnitude of 5.5 and higher.


An area of California where seismographs have picked up on recent swarms of activity is what is known as the Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea sits less than 100 miles outside of San Diego and is home to many faults.

These faults have likely caused an uptick in recent quake activity but many fail to reach the threshold for being noticed.

The Salton Sea and the entire state of California are part of the nearly 25,000-mile Ring of Fire that stretches from Australia around the northern Pacific and down through South America.

"When you think of Ring of Fire as one thing, it is easy to imagine ways in which the activity in one part of it could affect the other, and that is what we keep on hearing over and over again whenever there is a big earthquake. Johnny Cash found more significance to the Ring of Fire than any geologist ever has," Jones said.