What Do the Different Numbers On the Richter Scale Mean and How High Does It Go?

The Richter scale is a logarithmic scale that gauges the magnitude of an earthquake’s force.

Invented by Charles Richter in 1935, it is measured on a seismograph machine, interpreting the data the machine picks up from the Earth’s vibrations.

Each number is 10 times more powerful than the previous number.

For example, a quake that registers 8.0 is 10 times stronger than one that measures 7.0; 100 times more powerful than one that measures 6.0; and 1,000 times more intense than one that measures 5.0.

The scale is from 1 to 9 but is technically open-ended.

Many factors influence what occurs during a quake, but the basic scale is as follows:

1.0 Detectable only by instruments

2.0 Barely detectable, even near epicenter 3.0 Felt indoors

4.0 Felt by most people; slight damage

5.0 Felt by all; damage minor to moderate

6.0 Moderately destructive

7.0 Major damage

8.0 Total and major damage

9.0 Devastating in areas several thousand miles across.

10.0 Never recorded.