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From the Gutenberg-Richter law we know that the frequency of an earthquake is a power law, so virtually any magnitude is possible on earthquake event. But the earth has a finite size so there must be an upper theoretical limit on the earthquake's magnitude. What is this upper limit?

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Being possible, and actually occurring are two vastly different things. I'm no expert (not even a novice) in earthquake events, but I would pose two questions for you: 1. What research have you done to find a limit if it has been produced before (aka scientific journals and such)? 2. If no limit exists, in the theory, what have you done to support that there actually exists an upper limit related to the Earth's finiteness? – Brent May 14 '12 at 16:18
Obviously it can't be higher than the gravitational binding energy of the planet, but that limit is still too high. – dmckee May 15 '12 at 0:00
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Because the largest earthquakes are caused by the motion of faults in the earth's lithosphere, the upper limit to earthquake magnitude is going to be related to the contact area between tectonic plates, not the size of the entire earth. Some geophysicists believe the magnitude 9.5 earthquake in Chile was likely close to the maximum size possible.

Largest Earthquakes in the World since 1900

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No, that's the largest that has occurred, I think the OP's asking if there's any (physical/mathematical) upper bound which applies to the past, present and future ones too. So, this answer, while informative, doesn't really answer the question. – The Dark Side May 25 '15 at 7:18
Here's an expert on the subject who says the generally accepted limit is about 9.6 The limit is the maximum pressure where the rock breaks. – userLTK Jun 8 '15 at 10:27

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