I know the Richter magnitude scale is often used for measuring the strength of earthquakes. At the same time, explosive/destructive releases of energy are often quoted in equivalent amounts of TNT. Is there some way to relate these two scales? Or are they not equivalent?

It's especially confusing since the Richter scale doesn't seem to go very high. Is a magnitude 8 earthquake really only 4 times worse than a magnitude 2? Or would converting these numbers to TNT equivalents be more revealing?

  • $\begingroup$ Hi hatava. I'm closing this question (v1) as too localized since a simple Google search seems to provide the answer. $\endgroup$ – Qmechanic Apr 16 '13 at 18:52
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    $\begingroup$ Although, to be fair, this question could be modified to invite discussion of the MMS being quoted as Richter despite the disparity between the two; also, since the MMS is not exactly an energy scale, an answer that addresses all of these issues in the context of TNT approximations would give more information than that wikipedia article (which I just read). $\endgroup$ – bright-star Dec 28 '13 at 10:09

I'm doing some research on this topic, which was how I came across this page, and it seems like you seem to not understand the Richter Scale, which I will admit, is at some times confusing. The force of a magnitude 8 earthquake is Not actually only 4 times worse than that of a magnitude earthquake. In fact, it is 100000 times worse! As I quote http://www.sms-tsunami-warning.com/pages/richter-scale :

"How is the Richter Scale calculated The Richter magnitude involves measuring the amplitude (height) of the largest recorded wave at a specific distance from the seismic source. Adjustments are included for the variation in the distance between the various seismographs and the epicentre of the earthquakes. The Richter scale is a base-10 logarithmic scale, meaning that each order of magnitude is 10 times more intensive than the last one. In other words, a two is 10 times more intense than a one and a three is 100 times greater. In the case of the Richter scale, the increase is in wave amplitude. That is, the wave amplitude in a level 6 earthquake is 10 times greater than in a level 5 earthquake, and the amplitude increases 100 times between a level 7 earthquake and a level 9 earthquake."

  • $\begingroup$ This does not answer the question. $\endgroup$ – Ben51 Jan 22 '18 at 15:33

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