Richter Scale

The scale by which earthquakes are rated is called the Richter Scale. This scale provides a value of the magnitude, or potential seriousness of an earthquake. Earthquakes with a magnitude above 5.0 can cause damage to buildings and structures (NOAA). In 2012 there were 16,667 earthquakes worldwide, with 1523 above 5.0 on the Richter Scale (USGS).  In the United States in 2012 there were 3836 earthquakes with 32 above 5.0 on the Richter Scale (USGS).

Magnitude Effect Estimated Number Per Year
2.5 or less Usually not felt ~3,300,000
2.5 to 5.4 Often felt, but only causes minor damage. ~49,000
5.5 to 6.0 Slight damage to buildings and other structures. ~6,200
6.1 to 6.9 May cause a lot of damage in very populated areas. 800
7.0 to 7.9 Major earthquake. Serious damage. 120
8.0 or greater Can totally destroy communities near the epicenter. ≤1

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