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Earthquake Measurement, Essay Example

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Essay

The Richter scale is the most famous and well-known method of measuring the size and intensity of earthquakes, but before the advent of the Richter scale, scientists and environmentalists used something known as the Mercalli scale, invented in 1902, to measure the size of a quake. The Mercalli scale was a visual observation based tool designed to measure earthquakes, whereas the Richter scale is a scientific based tool designed to measure earthquakes.

The Mercalli scale was developed by Giuseppe Mercalli, an Italian volcanologist. The Mercalli scale was heavily based on witness observations and used eye-witness testimony to rate the earthquakes. The Mercalli scale did not have a heavy basis in scientific observation, but rather in visual observation, which made it an unreliable source for tracking and measuring earthquakes.

The Richter scale on the other hand calculates the amplitude of the largest seismic wave recorded for the earthquake after the quake strikes- providing a much more scientific and concrete approach to measuring the size of a quake. With the Richter scale, machines called seismographs are used to track the changing intensity in the vibrations of earth’s surface. “From the data expressed in seismograms, scientists can determine the time, the epicenter, the focal depth, and the type of faulting of an earthquake and can estimate how much energy was released” (U.S. Department of the Interior, 2012).

Richter’s technology has helped scientists and environmentalists make great headway in the progress of tracking, forecasting, measuring and predicting earthquakes and is a marked improvement on the Mercalli scale. The use of the seismograph has grown greatly since its first development and it continues to help the scientific community learn about the earth’s changes.

References

“How Are Earthquake Magnitudes Measured?” How Are Earthquake Magnitudes Measured? Michigan Tech University, n.d. Web. 09 May 2013. http://www.geo.mtu.edu/UPSeis/intensity.html

“Earthquakes – General Interest Publication.” Earthquakes – General Interest Publication. U.S. Department of the Interior, n.d. Web. 09 May 2013. http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/earthq1/measure.html

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