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We all know about the ring of fire, and we all know what happens when a volcano erupts.

For context: this is set in the near future, with humans living in high-tech protective domes during/following the catastrophic eruptions.

My question is: say the ring of fire finally erupts, leading to a domino effect with most of the active or dormant volcanos erupting, just how bad would the toxic gas, ash, earthquakes, etc. affect the world in the long term?

I realize large portions of the ecosystem would die from a combination of toxic gas, acid rain, and ash clouding the sun. But I'm curious how quickly the earth would recover using more adaptable species and plants such as kudzu and bamboo (or other fast growing plants).

Edit: Thank you everyone for informing me that the ring of fire would never actually all erupt at once, however, i'm not concerned with the hard science of an eruption, this work will take liberties with science and is more soft scifi. I just wanted a quick overview of what the world post eruption would be like.

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  • $\begingroup$ Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. $\endgroup$
    – Community Bot
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 7:57
  • $\begingroup$ What causes the eruption to be simultaneous? How big are the eruptions? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ I’m voting to close this question because this is an off-topic high concept question that's opinion-based, violates the book rule, permits all answers to have equal value, and is open-ended. All of which are prohibited in the help center. BTW, when you see that comment by the automated Community BOT, that's a red flag. It means the post has failed the basic checks for a good question by Stack Exchange. Usually (as it does here) it means there's no clear, specific, objective question. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 0:08

2 Answers 2

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The Ring of Fire is a geological phenomenon on a global scale. However...

The Ring of Fire is not a single geological structure. Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes in each part of the Ring of Fire occur independently of eruptions and earthquakes in the other parts of the Ring.

This means that unlike a caldera volcano such as Yellowstone, the Ring of Fire will not ever erupt simultaneously naturally. At most, one or two of the volcanoes around the Ring of Fire may be erupting simultaneously.

So, a normal eruption on the Ring of Fire would be followed by a more rapid recovery than a full-scale eruption of the Yellowstone Caldera.

To cause a chain of eruptions of every volcano around the entire Ring of Fire would probably require an amount of energy input that would constitute an extinction level event of itself, and the short answer is that Earth would not recover from it for millions of years at the soonest, if ever, at around the time that the few micro-organisms that survived evolved into something more macroscopic.

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The Ring of Fire can not simultaneously erupt

While each volcano may have its own magma chamber, there is also a shared energy budget inside the Earth that fills those magma chambers and causes pressure to build up leading to an eruption. Any time a volcano erupts it releases pressure from adjacent systems so instead of one eruption causing another, one eruption will reduce pressure in adjacent systems preventing a nearby volcano that is approaching its critical point from erupting.

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But what if they COULD all erupt at the same time?

Most volcanos are no where near as powerful as a single significant volcanic eruption. Even the same volcano is often drastically different in power scale from one eruption to the next. For example, the May 18th, 1980 eruption of Mt. Saint Helens was about 1000 times as powerful as the eruption of the exact same volcano when it erupted again just 9 years latter.

The best approximation I can give is to multiply the number of active volcanoes in the Ring of Fire by the average power of a volcano. Since the average volcano is about a 3.0 on the VEI scale and there are about 350 active volcanos in the Ring of Fire, then statistically, the entire event should be about a 5.3 VEI event... which makes it even weaker than the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai eruption that happened last year. Again, because volcanos vary so much in power, this "educated guess" could be off by several orders of magnitude in either direction.

Any way you add it up though, it is very unlikely, that even if all of the volcanoes erupted at the same time, that there would be a particularly noticeable outcome to anyone other than trained meteorologists, and the poor sods living too close to one of these volcanoes unless one or more of the eruptions was an actual major eruption.

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  • $\begingroup$ But let's say it happens by the god of disasters story, that all pressure is released from the system like you would squeeze your toothpaste tube to get everything out, what can we expect then regarding atmosphere, etc.? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 13:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena There is no amount of pressure where that is how it would work. The ring of fire would only rip open at its weakest points causing a small number of very large volcanoes. Not ~450 normal sized ones. When a high pressure system "pops", it does so at its weakest point, relieving pressure from all of its other weak points. To illustrate this, look up ruptured gas tanks. Even though they are theoretically homogeneous structures that should fail simultaneously everywhere, they always fail at a single point. They don't rip open in a lot of places at once when over-pressured. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ So if we keep the base idea of "it pops everywhere at once" (even if it's wildly implausible), we will have a super-boom at one place and lots of tiny, damp firecrackers everywhere else. That's so you tackle on the question more directly :). $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Tortliena I've added a section for just in case the ridiculousness of all volcanoes erupting at the same time could happen $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 19:32

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