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.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

Leave a Comment