What does the Richter Scale Measure?

Are we prepared when earthquakes attack? This question will always play in our minds after all the disastrous things that man has encountered throughout history, which include intense earthquakes that have caused the lives of millions of people. However, earthquakes are always inevitable. As we all know, our Earth is made up of tectonic plates. These plates are always subject for shifting. Once this happens, earthquakes are deemed to occur. These catastrophes may have increased in the past few years, but fortunately our technology has also improved in order to aid us against these possible disasters. One of these known tools designed against earthquakes is none other than the Richter scale. What is the Richter scale and what does the Richter scale measure?

The Richter scale is a device or equipment that is used in order to measure and calculate the seismic waves or energy that is released by an earthquake. The Richter scale was invented by a man named Charles F. Richter of the California Institute of Technology in the year 1935. This device is made so as to compare the size of earthquakes. It is through this scale where the magnitude of a particular Earthquake is determined by translating the amplitude of waves collected by the seismographs. This magnitude is then expressed by whole numbers along with decimal fractions. An earthquake with a magnitude of 2.0 or less is sometimes called as microearthquakes. Usually, we can feel countless microearthquakes in a day, but because they are very light, we cannot feel them. This is only captured by the Richter scale which is very sensitive to any type of movement. On the other hand, earthquakes that range somewhere in the magnitude of 4.0 are already considered as medium-strong quakes. However, it is also very possible for earthquakes to reach a magnitude of 8.0 and above, which is already considered as catastrophic.

It is, however, very important for us to know that the Richter scale is not used to measure the damaged it has caused. Intensity is different from the magnitude of an earthquake. The former is used to term the damage that has been caused by the earthquake while the latter is the one used to determine its strength. It is also right to say that a high-magnitude earthquake does not necessarily have a high intensity and vice versa. For example, an 8.0 magnitude earthquake happened in a rural area where there are only quite a few people and establishments. The magnitude may be high, but the intensity is very low since there are only few building and structures in the area. However, if a 5.0 earthquake happened in the heart of the city, the intensity can be greater.

So basically these are the functions of the Richter scale, which also includes the thing it measures. We can therefore conclude that without this significant and essential tool, our chances of surviving another earthquake are indeed very slim.

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