Magnitude and Intensity of Earthquake

The exact point on the faults where slip begins is known as Focus or Hypocenter, and the point perpendicularly over this on the exterior of the Earth is the Epicenter (Figure 1). The profundity of center from the epicenter, known Focal Depth, is a critical parameter in deciding the harming capability of an earthquake. The greater part of the harming earthquakes has shallow concentration with central deepness not exactly around 70km. Separate from epicenter to any purpose of intrigue is called epicentral distance.

Various diminutive magnitude earthquakes happen previously, then after the fact a major earthquake (i.e., the Main Shock). Those happening before the enormous one are known as Foreshocks, and the ones after are known as Aftershocks.


Magnitude is a measureable ration of the real magnitude of the earthquake. Charles Richter saw that (an) at a similar separation, seismograms (records of earthquake ground vibration) of bigger earthquakes have greater wave sufficiency than those of littler earthquakes; and (b) for a given earthquake, seismograms at more remote separations have littler wave adequacy than those at close separations. These provoked him to propose the now ordinarily utilized extent scale, the Richter Scale. It is acquired from the seismograms and records for the reliance of waveform sufficiency on epicentral remove. This scale is additionally called Local Magnitude scale. There are other magnitude scales, similar to the Body Wave Magnitude, Surface Wave Magnitude and Wave Energy Magnitude. These numerical greatness scales have no upper and lower constrains; the extent of a little earthquake can be zero or even negative.

An expansion in magnitude (M) by 1.0 suggests 10 times higher waveform abundancy and around 31 times higher vitality discharged. For example, vitality discharged in a M7.7 earthquakes is around 31 times that discharged in a M6.7 earthquakes, and is around 1000 (»31’31) times that discharged in a M5.7 earthquakes. The majority of the vitality discharged goes into warmth and breaking the stones, and just a little portion of it (luckily) goes into the seismic waves that go to extensive separations bringing on shaking of the ground on the way and subsequently harm to structures. (Did you know? The vitality discharged by a M6.3 earthquakes is equal to that discharged by the 1945 Atom Bomb dropped on Hiroshima!!)

Earthquakes are frequently ordered into various gatherings in light of their magnitude (Table 1). Yearly normal number of earthquakes over the Earth in each of these gatherings is likewise appeared in the table; it shows that on a normal one Great Earthquake happens every year.

Table 1: Global occurrence of earthquakes

Group Magnitude Annual Average Number
Great 8 and higher 1
Major 7 – 7.9 18
Strong 6 – 6.9 120
Moderate 5 – 5.9 800
Light 4 – 4.9 6,200 (estimated)
Minor 3 – 3.9 49,000 (estimated)
Very Minor < 3.0 M2-3: ~1,000/day; M1-2: ~8,000/day


Intensity is a subjective measure of the real shaking at an area amid a tremor, and is alloted as Roman Capital Numerals. There are numerous intensity scales. Two normally utilized ones are the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) Scale and the MSK Scale. Both scales are very comparable and range from I (slightest keen) to XII (generally extreme). The intensity scales depend on three elements of shaking – recognition by individuals and creatures, execution of structures, and changes to common environment. Table 2 gives the portrayal of Intensity VIII on MSK Scale.

The dispersion of intensity at better places amid a quake is demonstrated graphically utilizing isoseismals, lines joining places with equivalent seismic intensity (Figure 2).

Isoseismal Map of the 2001 Bhuj India

Figure 2: isoesiesmal Map of 2001 Bhuj, India

Earthquake (MSK intensity)

Table 2: Description of shaking intensity VIII as per MSK scale

Intensity VIII – Destruction of Buildings
(a) Fright and frenzy. Additionally, people driving motorcars are bothered. Here and there branches of trees sever. Indeed, even sizeable furniture moves and somewhat topples. Hanging lights are harmed to some extent.

(b) Most structures of Type C endure harm of Grade 2, and few of Grade 3. Most structures of Type B endure harm of Grade 3, and most structures of Type An endure harm of Grade 4. Periodic breaking of pipe creases happens. Dedications and landmarks move and wind. Headstones topple. Stonewalls fall.

(c) Small landslips happen in hollows and on banked streets on soak slants; cracks occur in the ground surface of great widths to of a few centimeters. Water in lakes gets to be distinctly turbid. New repositories appear. Dry wells refill and existing wells get to be distinctly dry. Much of the time, changes in stream and level of water are watched.


· Type A structures – rural constructions; Type B – ordinary masonry constructions; Type C – Well-built structures

· Single, Few – about 5%; Many – about 50%; Most – about 75%

· Grade 1 Damage – Slight damage; Grade 2 – Moderate damage; Grade 3 – Heavy damage; Grade 4 – Destruction; Grade 5 – Total damage

Basic Difference: Magnitude vs Intensity

Magnitude of a seismic tremor is a measure of its size. For example, one can quantify the measure of a quake by the measure of strain energy discharged by the fault crack. This implies the magnitude of the tremor is a solitary incentive for a given quake. Then again, intensity is a marker of the seriousness of shaking produced at a given area. Obviously, the magnitude of shaking is much higher close to the epicenter than more distant away. In this manner, amid a similar quake of a specific size, diverse areas encounter distinctive levels of intensity.

To expand this distinction, consider the similarity of an electric globule (Figure 3). The light at an area almost a 100-Watt knob is higher than that more distant far from it. While the globule discharges 100 Watts of vitality, the intensity of light (or enlightenment, measured in lumens) at an area relies on upon the wattage of the knob and its separation from the knob. Here, the span of the knob (100-Watt) resembles the size of a seismic tremor, and the light at an area like the intensity of shaking at that area.

Magnitude and Intensity in Seismic Design

One of the most frequently asked question: Can my building withstand a magnitude 7.0 quake? Be that as it may, the M7.0 quake causes diverse shaking intensities at various areas, and the harm instigated in structures at these areas is distinctive. In this manner, to be sure it is specific levels of force of intensities that structures and structures are intended to oppose, and less the magnitude. The pinnacle ground speeding up (PGA), i.e., most extreme increasing speed experienced by the ground amid shaking, is one method for measuring the magnitudes of the ground shaking. Rough experimental connections are accessible between the MM forces and the PGA that might be experienced (e.g., Table 3).

For example, amid the 2001 Bhuj seismic tremor, the range encased by the isoseismal VIII (Figure 2) may have encountered a PGA of around 0.25-0.30g. Nonetheless, now solid ground movement records from seismic instruments are depended upon to measure ruinous ground shaking. These are basic for financially savvy quake safe plan.

Table 3: PGAs at time of shaking at varying intensities



0.03-0.04 0.06-0.07 0.10-0.15 0.25-0.30 0.50-0.55 >0.60

Analyzing various data from the previous earthquakes, scientists Gutenberg and Richter in 1956 gave an estimated correlation amongst the Local Magnitude ML of an earthquake with the intensity I0 unrelenting in the epicentral area as: ML ? clip_image002 I0 + 1. (For utilizing this equation, the Roman numbers of intensity are substituted with the corresponding Arabic numerals, e.g., intensity IX with 9.0). There are various diverse relations projected by other scientists.

Reducing illumination with distance from an electric bulb

Figure 3: Reducing illumination with distance from an electric bulb

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