Basic Differenece of Intensity & Magnitude of Earthquake

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Intensity of Earthquake

The intensity of earthquake at a place is a measure of the strength of shaking during an earthquake. It is measured on two scales mainly Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) Scale and Medvedev Sponheuer Karnik  (MSK) Scale having scale range of  I to XII in Roman Capital Numerical. In this grade scale “ I ” represent least perceptive and grade scale “ XII ” represents most severe. From this it can be said that Intensity is a qualitative form of measurement.

Must read: Seismic Zones of India: All you Need to Know

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Courtesy - 123rf

Grade of Intensity of Earthquake is measured from the table below:

Grade of Intensity
Type of Earthquake
I Only recorded by seismographs
II Only felt by individual people at rest
III Only felt by a few people
IV Felt by many people. Dishes & doors rattle
V Hanging objects swing, many sleeping people awake
VI Slight damage in buildings and small cracks in plaster
VII Cracks in plaster, gaps in wall & chimneys
VIII Wide gaps in masonry, parts of gables & cornices fall down
IX In some buildings walls and roofs collapse, landslips
X Collapse of many buildings, cracks in ground upto widths of 1m
XI Many cracks in ground, landslips and falls of rocks
XII Strong changes in surface of the ground

As intensity of earthquake is an indicator of severity of shaking at a particular location. So, the intensity of a particular earthquake is different for different locations.

Intensity of Earthquake vs Magnitude of Earthquake

Intensity of Earthquake
Magnitude of Earthquake
The intensity of earthquake at a place is a measure of the strength of shaking during the earthquake. The magnitude of earthquake is the measure of amount of strain energy released by the fault rupture.
It is measured mainly on two scales mainly Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) Scale and Medvedev Sponheuer Karnik  (MSK) Scale. It is measured in Richter Scale.
It is measured on a scale range of I to XII in Roman Capital Numerical. It is measured as logarithm to the base 10 of the maximum trace amplitude and it could even be zero or even negative.
The intensity of a particular earthquake is different for different locations. The magnitude of earthquake is a single value for a particular earthquake.
It is a qualitative form of measurement. It is a quantitative form of measurement.

Magnitude of Earthquake

The magnitude of earthquake is the measure of amount of strain energy released by the fault rupture. It is measured in Richter Scale and have no upper or lower limits, it can be even zero or even negative. Richter Scale measures it as logarithm to the base 10 of the maximum trace amplitude and is expressed in microns.

From the equation of measuring magnitude it can be seen that by increase of magnitude by 1.0 implies 10 times higher waveform amplitude and about 31 times higher energy released. For instance, energy released in a M 7.5 earthquake is about 31 times that released in a M 6.5 earthquake, and is about (31×31) times that released in a M 5.5 earthquake.

The magnitude of earthquake is a single value for a particular earthquake and it is a quantitative measure of earthquake.

Also Read: How to Protect Yourself During Earthquake

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