Subduction-zone quakes account for nearly half of the world's destructive seismic events and 75 percent of the earth's seismic energy. They are along the so-called Ring of Fire, a narrow band about 38,600 km long, that coincides with the sides of the Pacific Ocean. The points at which crustal rupture occurs in such quakes tend to be far below the earth's surface, at depths of up to 645 km.
Not all subduction zones are subject to frequent earthquakes.
The frequency and magnitude of earthquakes around subduction zones are related to the direction in which the plates are moving. If two plates moving in the same general direction come close together, generally the edge of one plate will slide below the other at a sharp angle. This reduces the amount of area in which the plates touch, so the... [continues]
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