arnoldcam

Life as I know it… plus commentary

How big is 8.8 on the Richter scale?

with 3 comments

If you haven’t heard, there’s been an 8.8 severity earthquake in Chile.

If you’re like me and you’re not very good with numbers, then a more tangible scale might help.

You can actually equate the Richter magnitude with dynamite. For instance, a hand grenade is equal to 12 pounds of dynamite. An atomic bomb is equal to a kiloton or 1000 tons of TNT.

A 5.0 earthquake = 32 kilotons = the Nagasaki atomic bomb. In terms of earthquake size, this is considered moderate. Can cause major damage to poorly constructed buildings in a small region.

A 6.0 earthquake is considered “Strong” and can be destructive in areas up to 100 miles

A 6.7 earthquake = 16.2 megatons (162 kilotons) = the Northridge earthquake of 1994. The big earthquake that collapsed portions of the double decker highway in SF in 1989 during the World Series was a 6.9.

A 7.0 earthquake is considered “Major” can can cause serious damage over larger areas.

A 7.0 earthquake = 32 megatons of TNT = the recent Haiti earthquake

An 8.0-9.0 earthquake is considered “Great” and can cause damage over several hundred (8.0) or thousand (9.0) miles across

An 8.0 earthquake = 1 gigaton (1,000,000 kilotons) = the great 1906 SF earthquake, the 1985 Mexico earthquake

An 8.8 earthquake = 15.8 gigatons = the Chile earthquake.

A 10.0 earthquake is considered “Epic” and has never been recorded. It would have a TNT equivalent of 1 Teraton or 1 billion kilotons.

They’re guessing the asteroid that hit the Yucatan peninsula caused a 13.0 earthquake.

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Written by arnold

February 27, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Posted in News items, Wikitacular

3 Responses

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  1. By the way the Richter scale only goes up to 10.0 and after that the materials in the earth will no longer sheer and will just turn to liquid, I have a BS in Environmental science.

    So might want to check with some other sources but i can tell you that the Richter scale is logorithmic in that each additional point on the scal is 10 times as devestating as a point smaller earthquake, regarding Richter scale from 0-10.0.
    Just FYI, from a Chico State Grad.

    Jeff D.

    March 2, 2010 at 9:58 am

  2. Hey Jeff. Thanks for the comment!

    Wikipedia cites the following for the 13.0 rating:

    #8 Bralower, Timothy J.; Charles K. Paull; R. Mark Leckie (1998). “The Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary cocktail: Chicxulub impact triggers margin collapse and extensive sediment gravity flows”. Geology 26: 331–334. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(1998)0262.3.CO;2. ISSN 0091-7613. http://www.geosc.psu.edu/people/faculty/personalpages/tbralower/Braloweretal1998.pdf. Retrieved 2009-09-03.
    #9 Klaus, Adam (2000). “Impact-induced mass wasting at the K-T boundary: Blake Nose, western North Atlantic”. Geology 28: 319–322. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(2000)282.0.CO;2. ISSN 0091-7613.
    #10 Busby, Cathy J.; Grant Yip; Lars Blikra; Paul Renne (2002). “Coastal landsliding and catastrophic sedimentation triggered by Cretaceous-Tertiary bolide impact: A Pacific margin example?”. Geology 30: 687–690. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(2002)0302.0.CO;2. ISSN 0091-7613.
    #11 Simms, Michael J. (2003). “Uniquely extensive seismite from the latest Triassic of the United Kingdom: Evidence for bolide impact?”. Geology 31: 557–560. doi:10.1130/0091-7613(2003)0312.0.CO;2. ISSN 0091-7613.
    #12 Simkin, Tom; Robert I. Tilling; Peter R. Vogt; Stephen H. Kirby; Paul Kimberly; David B. Stewart (2006). “This dynamic planet. World map of volcanoes, earthquakes, impact craters, and plate tectonics. Inset VI. Impacting extraterrestrials scar planetary surfaces”. U.S. Geological Survey. http://mineralsciences.si.edu/tdpmap/pdfs/impact.pdf. Retrieved 2009-09-03.

    I did know that the Richter Scale was logarithmic in nature and what you’re saying makes sense that 10.0 would be the ceiling in terms of real occurrences. Not having any actual education in the matter, my speculations are worth a bag of doughnuts, but maybe they’re just using the 13.0 figure as “a big frikking quake”. 🙂

    the arnold

    March 2, 2010 at 1:37 pm

  3. earthquake.

    the kyle

    March 16, 2010 at 12:13 pm


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