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Published February 2010 | Published
Journal Article Open

Magnitude and energy of earthquakes


Discrepancies arise among magnitudes as derived from local earthquake data (M_L), body waves (M_B) and surface waves (M_S). The relation of ML to the others is as yet not definitive; but M_S – m_B = a (M_S – b). The latest revision gives a = 0.37, b = 6.76. Pending further research it is recommended that ML continue to be used as heretofore, but M_S (and ultimately M_L) should be referred to m_B as a general standard, called the unified magnitude and denoted by m. Tentatively log E = 5.8 + 2.4 m (E in ergs). Revised tables and charts for determining m are given.

Additional Information

© 2010 by the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Contribution n. 750, Division of the Geological Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California.

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