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Published July 1942 | Published
Journal Article Open

Earthquake magnitude, intensity, energy, and acceleration


The magnitude of an earthquake was originally defined by the junior author (Richter, 1935), for shocks in southern California, as the logarithm of the maximum trace amplitude expressed in thousandths of a millimeter with which the standard short-period torsion seismometer (free period 0.8 sec., static magnification 2800, damping nearly critical) would register that earthquake at an epicentral distance of 100 kilometers. Gutenberg and Richter (1936) extended the scale to apply to earthquakes occurring elsewhere and recorded on other types of instruments.

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Copyright © 1942, by the Seismological Society of America. Manuscript received for publication January 29, 1942.

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