Tropical, yet Dangerous Places

By: Lucy B, Jayden G, Jordan F, and Abby A


Out of 196 countries in the world, the four countries of Chile, Indonesia, Philippines, and the Virgin Islands are the most dangerous on the entire globe. A gorgeous sunset overlooking dozens of palm trees in the rainforest jungles of Indonesia, exquisite turquoise waters lapping at the sandy white beaches at the Philippines, rugged mountains in Chile are in the background of the Pacific Ocean waters, and plenty of tourists attractions in the heart of an island paradise. These stunning destinations are popular because of their tourist industry, splendid sightseeing, historic monuments, crystal-clear sparkling waters, unique plant and animal habitats, and tropical climates situated adjacent to the oceans. However, these exclusive places can be treacherous because of what lies underneath the surface. The constant movement of tectonic plates creates earthquakes and volcanoes, which results in landslides, tsunamis, and destruction of buildings. Indonesia, Chile, the Philippines, and the Virgin Islands may look inviting, but they are some of the worst places to live in the world. Since they are located by tectonic plates, these countries have an increased vulnerability to earthquakes and volcanoes and some of the most catastrophic, historic natural disasters.

Sumatra, Indonesia

Breathtaking Island Paradise

People are addicted to tropical bliss, and the islands of Indonesia are some of the most unique the in the world. Known for their kindness and hospitality, the people are always eager to greet the foreigners who come there to vacation. Lush rainforests situated between rugged mountain chains that overlook the warm, turquoise waters is one of the reasons why people choose to live here. All of the 17,000 islands are located on or very close to the equator, giving Indonesia the perfect climate setting. People choose to live here because they can create their own heaven-on-earth feeling. On top of that, there is exquisite scenery, astonishing surfing and other water sports, iconic rice paddies, stunning coral reefs, religious monuments, and a relaxing lifestyle focused on meditation. Sumatra is the world’s sixth largest island, and has a vast variety of landforms including the Barisan mountain chain, rivers like the Batang Hari, lowland swamps, and tropical rainforests. Inside these forests, lots of unique plants live, including the world’s biggest flower, the Rafflesia Arnoldii, and another popular spot is Lake Toba. Additionally, Sumatra has numerous endangered species that are only located in that region like the Sumatran tiger and orangutan. Warm, humid climates with plenty of rainfall give Sumatra, one of Indonesia’s most popular islands, a luscious green rainforest for all to view. However, we must keep in mind what’s happening below the surface.

Hidden Disasters

Although these natural paradises may look tempting to travel to, keep in mind what dark secrets loom underneath the surface of innocent looking mountains. On the ocean floor beneath the welcoming surface of Sumatra, the Indian-Australian plate is pushing up against the Eurasian plate, which is what the rest of Indonesia lies on. This is known as the Sumatran Subduction trench, because the oceanic Indian-Australian plate is subducting, going under, the continental Eurasian plate. In a subduction zone, two plates push against each other, until one slips under the other, causing major problems like large earthquakes and massive volcanoes. It is the worst type of plate boundary. The shaking and pushing motion of the plates creates friction on the boundary, and when the plates are forced into each other earthquakes occur. As one tectonic plate slides under into the mantle, the hot fluids release gases from all of the pressure below, and eventually the magma is forced out. With this new pressure occurring underneath the surface in magma chambers, it is eventually forced out through the island’s numerous shield volcanoes. When this subducting occurs the plates cause lots of movement, which ultimately results in destruction, or new landforms. In fact, the islands of Indonesia were created through the force of the tectonic plates. The Mariana trench was also formed around the area of Indonesia because of the subduction zone, making it the deepest part of any ocean in the world, or the lowest altitude in the entire globe. Sumatra is located 125 miles from the boundary where the plates are overlapping each other at a rate of 2 inches per year. Since both of the tectonic plates are grinding against each other, this creates earthquakes. Often the stress of two plates squeezing against each other causes earthquakes. This compression stress results in horrific earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, volcanoes, and lots of damage in Sumatra.

Fun or Fatal?

Regardless of the extraordinary landscape and many attractions Sumatra provides, it is the most dangerous place in the world. 34 volcanoes line the western part of the island, closest to the convergent plate boundary. One of the worst volcanoes in history happened on the Sumatra-Java straight in 1883. Prior to the eruptions most citizens thought that Krakatoa was dormant, but then the super volcano started to heat up during the spring of ‘83. Finally, on August 26,1883, Krakatoa unleashed a deadly explosion. Reports stated that the ash projected seventeen miles into the air, and the boom from the eruption was heard 2,200 miles away in Australia. The results of this massive volcano was 5 cubic miles of pumice which stopped ships from docking, pressure waves in the atmosphere recorded around the world, and tons of fine volcanic ash that caused red sunsets for the rest of the year. Most of the damage took place in tsunamis. A wave reaching 120 feet off of the islands of Sumatra and Java killed 36,000 people. The Krakatoa island was buried under a deep layer of sterile ash, and no plant and animal life took place for the next five years. Indonesia is also known for its historic, devastating earthquakes. On December 26, 2004 Sumatra experienced on of the largest earthquakes ever recorded, a 9.2 on the Richter Scale. This earthquake caused the largest tsunami in history; 227,898 people died, or went missing, and massive waves were recorded as far away as Africa and Hawaii. Since Sumatra is located in the Ring of Fire, a hotspot region located in a ring shape around the Pacific Ocean, it is at a greater risk of volcanic and earthquake activity. In fact, Indonesia receives multiple earthquakes daily, and they all have a 4.0 or higher on the Richter Scale. Over the past week, the lowest Richter scale rating has been 4.1, and the highest rating was a 5.1. On top of that, the elevation of Sumatra is 12,484 feet, making tsunamis and landslides a bigger threat. I believe that Sumatra, Indonesia is the most dangerous place in the world because of its location by tectonic plates, numerous active volcanoes, dozens of earthquakes happening daily, and high elevation. Even though Sumatra may be the perfect island getaway, I would recommend being aware of all of the danger happening underneath this tropical paradise.


looking for a new place to live?

looking to move away from home. Chile is a fun place to go. Its has skiing, snowboarding, and National parks. It's on the coast, beautiful mountains. One thing you could go to easter island and see the things there. Although Chile is a small country it has beautiful and diverse landscapes to offer. It stays pretty warm in chile better than Iowa sometimes. The people are nice. You can learn new languages. You also could be on a beach.

moving to chile? Just wait a minute.

When going to chile you should not just worry about having fun or what you doing also about your safety. EarthQuakes happen there quite often the a day where some happened hours apart. Chile is Convergent boundary and on a subduction zone. The convergent boundary are moving and the subduction zone is getting bigger. A subduction zone is where the plates are moving and taking big chunks of land with it That is very dangerous. It sits at the junction where 3 plates meet. It sits on the Nazca, South America, and Antarctic Plate. so at all most times these plates are moving even if you can't feel it and there has been a lot of the 5 or above lately ( for the richter scale). Chile also has about 500 active volcanoes, and 15 have erupted in last 20 years. One of them erupted 3 times in 8 days. that was just last year.


In an earthQuake with the rating of 6.2 had killed 5,000 people. WOW!!! It was in 1960 though. an earthQuake with the rating 8.2 rating kills 6 people.chiles is just really unpredictable. with all of the volcano risks, too. you will not know what the risks are at any times. At any time could this happen you could go and have a great time and or have risk of getting injured.

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Why people or you should live there

The sight of the Philippines is amazing. There is lots of tourist places to see, there our over 93 million people and growing rapidly. There are many beautiful places on the continent but also a lot of dangerous places too. People also like to stay in the Philippines because they can go scuba diving in the clear sea, and hike up some of the volcanoes that our there. People that our into World War 2 things can go scuba diving into the sunken Japanese ship wrecks.

Tectonic plates

The Philippine Sea plate is pushing against three other plates, The Eurasian Plate, The Sunda Plate, and The Pacific Plate causing the two to the left to be a subduction zone. A subduction zone is when one two plates try to push up on each other, and one of them will give causing it to sink beneath the other plate that rises on top of it. When the plate moves it will kinda grind of the other one causing earthquakes in the area. As the plate sinks under the other one magma will rise into the cracks causing a volcano to form. The Philippines is part of something called the Ring Of Fire and it is around where most of the active tectonic plates are found in the world. The frequency of earthquakes in the Philippines is daily but most of them are around 4.0-5.0 on the richter scale but most of them are not that big. The Philippines sits on to subduction places and the islands are bounded by the trenches that our formed in between the islands. The two subduction plates caused many of the volcanoes to have big eruptions. Scientist think that more and more islands will grow many more islands from two plates being active.

Historical Chaos

The damage in the past from all the major volcanoes happening was bad. Most of the towns or cities by the volcano where going to be destroyed. Some of the volcanoes can form so big causing them to start another island to live on or to just be there for the volcano. The most active volcano in the Philippines is The Mayon volcano with 50 eruptions and was raised from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 5. Some scientist thought that many of the volcanoes are “dead or sleeping” but some of them wake up and have these major eruptions causing them kill many and awaring others. The biggest earthquake to ever hit the Philippines had a 7.8 magnitude and cost over 350 million US dollars to rebuild everything. The earthquake killed 2,412 people and caused many more to injures. There was also a 7.2 magnitude earthquake destroying 40% of all the buildings and killing 20,000 to 40,000. The bad thing about this country is that there are over 20 active volcanoes and at most of them are very dangerous. Even if there biggest eruption happened over 5 years ago many people that live on the island with one of the major volcanoes on it will have a big eruption again in the future. Tsunamis in the Philippines are extremely rare. The biggest tsunami wave was half a meter long, although it caused a 8.9 magnitude earthquake off the coast in Japan. There was no lives lost and no damage done.

The Virgin Islands

Tropical Islands filled with fun

The Virgin Islands are a popular tourist attraction and a tropical paradise. People come from all over the world just to enjoy the crystal clear, turquoise water and the many historical attractions. St. Thomas, one of the Virgin Islands, is one of the most popular islands. People can relax and take a stroll on the beach, go on a hike to visit an old church or monument, and even ride sky lifts or go bungee jumping! There is tons of cute, little shops and markets that sell everything that someone would ever need. The food is great and there is always a restaurant for everybody’s taste in food. There is also concerts, carnivals, golf, scuba diving, and even cook-offs! St. Thomas is definitely the island to go to with all of its unique wildlife and great opportunities.

Tantalizing Tectonic Plates

However, the beautiful island of St. Thomas also has some down sides. St. Thomas sits on the Caribbean plate which is a convergent boundary. This plate sits on a subduction zone with the North American plate. When plates with a convergent boundary are in a subduction zone, it causes one plate to move under another. This movement makes one of the plates rise up and create mountains, such as Crown Mountain, and hills on the island. It also causes lots of earthquakes everyday because when the earth’s compression stress kicks in, plates are squeezed together and earthquakes are formed. A convergent boundary usually causes volcanoes as well because the compression stress pushes the plates together making giant mountains and volcanoes, but there isn’t any on the island. The island is bordered by the North American plate which is a transform boundary.

Evidence of Danger on the Island

The Virgin Islands are one of the most dangerous places on earth because it sits on a convergent boundary and they experience 1-8 or more earthquakes every day. The highest recorded earthquake on the richter scale for the islands was an 8 in 1787, and a lot of damage was done. It was felt strongly all over the island and many buildings were demolished. A tsunami was followed with waves up to 40 ft high. Records don’t say all of the damage or how many people died for either one of these events. St. Thomas doesn’t have any volcanoes, but because it’s an island, it has a greater risk for tsunamis. Right now there is a big tsunami risk for all of the Caribbean islands and some parts of Central America. St. Thomas’s highest point, Crown Mountain, is only 1,556 feet high, so the island is not at a very high risk for landslides. The earthquakes and tsunami risks are the most dangerous events on the island. This is definitely one of the most dangerous places in the world.

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As you can see throughout our article, some of the world’s most famous tropical areas, aren’t as great as they seem. Indonesia, Chile, the Philippines, and the Virgin Islands are full of amazing content, but under their amazing surface, there are crazy tectonic plates that cause all sorts of danger. All of these places are still great places to visit, but now you know the dangers you could face. Earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and landslides are some of the most treacherous events on this world, and it is important that you know a place’s history before you visit. Some of the planet's most dangerous places may also be the tropical paradises that you never expected.

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