Q:

What does the Richter Scale measure?

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Quick Answer

The Richter Scale measures the magnitude of an earthquake. The scale was created in 1935 by American seismologist and physicist Charles F. Richter.

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Full Answer

Seismographs record the amplitude of the waves from an earthquake, which are then used in a logarithm to calculate the quake's size. Adjustments to the measurements are made for various factors including distance from the seismograph and the quake's epicenter. The largest earthquake recorded, as of January 2015, is the Great Chilean Earthquake. The 1960 quake registered a 9.5 on the Richter Scale.

The Richter Scale is rarely used anymore since the creation of the moment magnitude scale. The scale is more accurate in determining size.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How high does the Richter scale go?

    A:

    The Richter scale does not have an upper limit. The Richter scale is a logarithmic representation of the amount of energy released by an earthquake, or its magnitude. As of 2014, the earthquake that rated highest in recorded history was a 9.5-magnitude quake in Chile in 1960.

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  • Q:

    What is the difference between the Richter and Mercalli scales?

    A:

    The difference between the Richter and Mercalli scales, both intended to measure earthquake severity, is that the Richter scale is a mathematical scale based on the measurements of scientific instruments, while the Mercalli scale is based on witness observation and structural damage. The Richter scale is much more objective and scientific and is usable anywhere there is an earthquake. The Mercalli scale is useless outside of populated areas.

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  • Q:

    How do you know if there is an earthquake happening?

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    The sensations of an earthquake differ depending on the distance from and magnitude of the event. Large earthquakes, when experienced close to the epicenter, involve violent ground jolts and shaking; farther away a large earthquake feels more like a gentle bump and a rolling-ground sensation. Small quakes, in contrast, feature smaller jolts and fewer shakes at close range, and those who are farther away may not feel anything.

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  • Q:

    What does a seismometer measure?

    A:

    A seismometer measures movements in the ground during an earthquake and creates electric signals that can be read to determine an earthquake's magnitude. Seismometers are contained within a device called a seismograph that is attached to the ground.

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