Richter Scale

The devastating earthquake measuring 7.9 Richter scale has already killed more than 5000 people in Nepal.  Earthquake with higher Richter scale are more damaging and dangerous. Earthquake can be measured in different scales and Richter’s scale has been used most widely. Charles F. Richter developed the scale in 1936 at California, USA.  The intensity of the earthquake is measured by Richter scale.

Seismic waves indicate the energy transported through the earth during the earthquake. The amplitude of a wave refers to the amount of displacement of a particle on the medium from its rest position (the Physics Classroom, 2015). The amplitude has a relationship with the energy transported by the seismic wave. “The energy transported by a wave is directly proportional to the square of the amplitude of the wave “(the Physics Classroom, 2015).

Richter scale measures the size of an earthquake and logarithm of the amplitude of earthquake is determining factor (BGS, n.d.). Amplitude of the earthquake increases tenfold with a whole number increase in the scale. Earthquake with a magnitude up to 5.4 is noticeable but less damaging. Severe damages to buildings and infrastructure are likely to occur from an earthquake with Richter scale 7 or higher (matter project, 1999).

Recent bigger earthquakes include Sumatra, Indonesia earthquake of Richter scale 9.1 in December 2004, Sendai, Japan earthquake of Richter scale 9.0 in March 2011 and Bio-Bio, Chile earthquake of Richter scale 8.8 in February 2010 (Philips, 2011). Earthquake can’t be predicted however high risk areas and earthquake prone zones can be identified.


British Geological Survey (BGS) (n.d.) What is Earthquake Magnitude [Online] Available at [Accessed on 28 April 2015].

Matter Project (1999) Scales of Measuring Earthquakes [Online] Available at [Accessed on 28 April 2015]

Philips, C. (2011) Earthquakes: The 10 Biggest in History [Online] Available at [Accessed on 28 April 2015].

The Physics Classroom (2015) Energy Transport and the Amplitude of a Wave [Online] Available at [Accessed on 28 April 2015].


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