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The Richter Scale

The seismic wave-based Richter scale is the most widely recognized way of indicating how powerful an earthquake was.

india Updated: May 22, 2003 14:17 IST
PTI

The Richter scale is the most widely recognized way of indicating how powerful an earthquake was. The Scale measures seismic waves that are caused by the vibrations from earthquakes.

This scale was developed by geophysicist Charles F Richter in 1935 at the California Institute of Technology.

It is an open-ended scale, that is, it has no upper limit. Also it is a rare logarithmic scale, which means an earthquake measuring 6 on the scale is 10 times more powerful than one measuring 5, and 100 times more powerful than an earthquake of magnitude 4. The magnitude is measured in fractions of whole numbers eg an earthquake may measure 4.6 or 7.9.

The Richter Scale however not used to express damage. An earthquake of magnitude 7.6, if it occurs in a sparsely populated area, will be less harmful than measuring 6.1 in a densely populated area.