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Measuring the size of an earthquake

Earthquakes & Volcanoes (USGS)
By: , and 

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Abstract

Earthquakes range broadly in size. A rock-burst in an Idaho silver mine may involve the fracture of 1 meter of rock; the 1965 Rat Island earthquake in the Aleutian arc involved a 650-kilometer length of the Earth's crust. Earthquakes can be even smaller and even larger. If an earthquake is felt or causes perceptible surface damage, then its intensity of shaking can be subjectively estimated. But many large earthquakes occur in oceanic areas or at great focal depths and are either simply not felt or their felt pattern does not really indicate their true size.

Today, state-of-the-art seismic systems transmit data from the seismograph via telephone line and satellite directly to a central digital computer. A preliminary location, depth-of-focus, and magntidue can now be obtained within minutes of the onset of an earthquake. The only limiting factor is how long the seismic wave stake to travel from the epicenter to the stations-usually less than 10 minutes. 

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Measuring the size of an earthquake
Series title Earthquakes & Volcanoes (USGS)
Volume 21
Issue 1
Year Published 1989
Language English
Publisher U.S Geological Survey
Description 6 p.
First page 58
Last page 63
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N