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What type of scale is used to measure earthquakes?

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Quick Answer

The scale used to measure the severity of earthquakes is called the Richter scale. The Richter scale was invented by an American seismologist named Charles Richter at the California Institute of Technology in 1935.

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Full Answer

The Richter scale is a logarithmic scale that measures the intensity of seismic vibrations in the Earth’s crust. The scale is numbered from 1 to 10, with 10 representing the most severe earthquakes. The magnitude or intensity of an earthquake is measured in whole numbers and decimal fractions. Earthquakes with a magnitude of 2.0 or less are often called micro quakes, while major earthquakes usually have a magnitude of 4.5 or greater. A seismograph is the instrument used to measure these seismic vibrations.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is a diagram of the Richter scale?

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    A diagram that uses the Richter scale is used to measure the magnitude of an earthquake. When an earthquake takes place, a device called a seismograph records the earthquake's vibration, and multiple seismographs can form a coherent picture. From the resulting diagram, the earthquake's force can be determined.

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  • Q:

    What is the formula for determining the difference in intensity between two Richter scale values?

    A:

    The Richter scale is logarithmic. Each whole-number jump indicates a tenfold increase in wave magnitude and a 31.7 increase in energy released. For example, a Richter 9 earthquake has 100 times the magnitude and 1004.89 times the energy of a Richter 7 earthquake.

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  • Q:

    How does the Richter scale work?

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    The Richter scale is used to determine the intensity of earthquakes, and a seismograph is a device that shakes with the ground during an earthquake. This movement is recorded by using ink to draw lines on paper that is constantly being moved by a motor.

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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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