Seismologists are trying to work out if the earthquakes that have hit Japan and Ecuador in recent days are linked.
Both countries sit astride the 25,000 mile Asia Pacific ring of fire, which stretches along the Pacific coast of the Americas and across the ocean to Japan and down to Indonesia and The Philippines.
Japan is almost 10,000 miles north of the South American country of Ecuador.
Around 90% of the world’s thousands of earthquakes every year hit the region, but many are small and go unreported mainly because they occur in the ocean.
Scientists say there is no evidence to link the quakes, but also point out that no research conclusively rules out a connection.
Trail of disaster
A series of tremors struck Kyushu Island last week, killing 48 people while thousands have lost or fled their homes as powerful aftershocks rocked the island. The most powerful was at least magnitude 7.
Next, several towns in Ecuador were flattened by a 7.8 quake.
At least 480 people died, nearly 5,000 were hurt and many thousands more were made homeless.
Then another 5.8 earthquake shook the north of Honshu Island, with the epicentre 60 miles offshore near the town of Sendai.
No casualty or damage reports have been made to the authorities.
Now, another 6.2 earthquake was registered six miles deep and centred 44 miles out to sea off the coastal town of Esmeraldas, Ecuador.
Scientists expect earthquakes of this power to happen around 15 times a year.
Other smaller earthquakes were also detected in Tonga, Vanuatu, Myanmar and the Philippines, which all sit on the ring of fire.
Two of the highest magnitude earthquakes ever recorded were on the ring of fire – one measuring 9.2 in Alaska in 1964 and a 9.5 off the pacific coast of Chile in 1960.
The earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador have triggered fears that a bigger disaster is on the way as the tectonic plates beneath the Pacific move and release centuries of pent up stress.
The US Geographical Survey agrees that a large quake could hit anywhere at any time, but dismisses fears are evidence that a 10 plus megaquake is on the way.