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Name: Robin
Status: Other
Age: 40s
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Question:
I am wondering about the Richter Scale. The biggest earthquake I have ever felt was the one in Northridge, Ca. I live in Orange County (at least 60 miles from the epicenter), and I am curious as to what the magnitude of the earthquake was 60 miles away? Thank you in advance, this has really been on my mind.



Replies:
The Richter scale is a measure of how much total energy an earthquake puts into shaking things around. It is a common logarithmic scale, which means that each unit on the Richter scale represents a tenfold increase in energy released. It's not a measure of how much the ground shakes at any particular place. So, the magnitude of the Northridge earthquake was around 7. That's the whole earthquake, not what it felt like at any particular place.

The extent of shaking at any particular place during an earthquake depends on the distance from the epicenter, the amount of energy released in the quake, the tendency of the ground to shake, and the tendency of the intervening material to transmit the earthquake energy.

Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Director
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois



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