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Scales that Represent Earthquake Magnitude

Scientists use different scales to indicate the intensity and magnitude of an earthquake including the Mercalli, Richter and moment magnitude.

Atoms Practice
Practice Scales that Represent Earthquake Magnitude
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Did You Feel It
Teacher Contributed

Did you feel it?

Why It Matters

Did you just feel an earthquake? Have you ever experienced an earthquake?

When you do experience a quake, pay close attention to what time it is, what items are shaking around you, and what type of structure you are in. Go to the United States Geological Survey’s website and log your data:


As more people enter their data, you can revisit the site to see how other people’s experiences match up with yours!

Explore More

  1. Here is some history on the USGS “Did you feel it?” program: http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2005/3016/pdf/FS-2005-3016.pdf How has this citizen driven data helped U.S.G.S. geologists?
  2. Using the Community Internet Intensity map in the USGS pdf, where have the highest intensities been reported by citizens across the United States? How does this compare with the seismic hazards map shown on the following page?
  3. Looking at the Intensity level chart and the two example intensity maps of southern California, what types of observations do you think locals experienced during the magnitude 7.1 earthquake? How did their experience differ in the 4.4 magnitude quake?

Resources Cited

United States Geological Survey. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/dyfi/


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