Measuring an earthquake's intensity
The Earthquake Monitoring Station in the Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth features a recorder showing real-time ground shaking at stations in Alaska, Arizona, and Japan. The stations are part of a network that monitors global seismic activity to provide warnings.
A screen showing seismic activity uses red dots for that day's events, orange for the day before, yellow for the previous two weeks, and purple for the past five years. Yellow rings around each dot indicate the earthquake's magnitude. The screen shows both global and U.S. views.
How do seismologists compare the relative intensity and effects of earthquakes? The most familiar way is through the Richter scale, which measures the amount of ground motion. The scale is calibrated logarithmically, meaning that a 5 is ten times greater than a 4. Measured in terms of actual energy release, each step on the Richter scale represents 33 times more energy.
Topic: Earth Science
Keywords: Earthquake magnitude, Earthquakes, Richter scale, Seismology, Seismometers