What Is the Richter Scale?
An earthquake is only what it sounds similar – the quaking of Earth. The basis shakes in addition to moves due to stone breaking below the surface. This displace of basis is called seismic activity, in addition to piece nosotros can’t ever nation when, where, or how strongly an earthquake volition hit, nosotros tin halt mensurate its magnitude piece it’s happening.
In 1935, Charles Richter developed the local magnitude scale, a scale used to mensurate the magnitude of earthquakes. Now called the Richter scale, these measurements nation us how much the basis shook during a quake in addition to how much liberate energy was released. This information comes from seismographs, which collect information in addition to ask mensurate the total of basis shaking.
The Richter scale runs from 1 – 10 (1 beingness the to the lowest degree inwards magnitude in addition to 10 beingness the greatest), but it is logarithmic. This way that for each 1 betoken inwards increment on the scale nosotros popular off 10 times to a greater extent than basis shaking. Let’s await at an example. Say nosotros own got a magnitude 1 earthquake on the Richter scale, which is the lowest magnitude earthquake. Compare that alongside a magnitude 2 earthquake, which is alone i stair higher (remember, the scale runs from 1 – 10), in addition to you lot instantly own got 10 times to a greater extent than basis shaking than alongside the magnitude 1 quake.
Now let’s run across how this relates to the full liberate energy released during an earthquake. Through measurements of seismic activity, scientists know that the liberate energy released yesteryear an earthquake, which is what causes all that shaking in addition to moving inwards the get-go place, increases 32 times for each stair upwards the Richter scale. Take our instance from earlier where nosotros own got a magnitude 1 in addition to a magnitude 2 quake. The magnitude 2 quake volition own got 32 times to a greater extent than liberate energy than the magnitude 1 earthquake.
Now let’s compare our magnitude 1 in addition to magnitude iii quakes. The magnitude iii quake is ii steps upwards the Richter scale, so nosotros own got 32 times to a greater extent than liberate energy for the get-go stair in addition to so 32 times to a greater extent than liberate energy than that upwards the 2d step. 32 times 32 gives us well-nigh 1,000 times the liberate energy alongside only ii steps upwards the scale! This is fifty-fifty to a greater extent than amazing when you lot compare this alongside the divergence inwards basis shaking. Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 magnitude iii earthquake has 100 times to a greater extent than basis shaking than a magnitude 1 quake but well-nigh 1,000 times the energy. That’s a large difference!
The Richter scale was originally designed to mensurate medium-sized earthquakes, those betwixt magnitude iii in addition to 7, in addition to inside a distance of well-nigh 400 miles. The 2d magnitude scale was created inwards 1979 to bargain alongside these issues, but it builds on the Richter scale because it was already so accurate for small- to medium-sized quakes. The 2d magnitude scale is the currently accepted scale used to mensurate medium- to large-sized earthquakes.
The Richter scale remains the measure for quakes smaller than 3.5 inwards magnitude, in addition to luckily, this is where most earthquakes autumn on the scale. About 1,000,000 magnitude 2 earthquakes occur each year, compared alongside alone well-nigh 1,000 magnitude v quakes. Magnitude 10 earthquakes are extremely rare, occurring less than i time a year. Considering that the liberate energy release of a magnitude 2 quake is equal to well-nigh 50 kg of explosive piece a magnitude v releases liberate energy equivalent to 1,800,000 kg, nosotros should move really thankful that they are so infrequent!