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Published 1964 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

Historical Background of the Magnitude Scale

Richter, C. F.


The primary purpose of introducing the term magnitude and its accompanying apparatus into seismology was (and remains) to clarify the statistics of earthquake occurrence. Early in the study of seismological phenomena, and occasionally since, earthquake statistics were studied with no distinction made between large and small events. For certain limited purposes, if good judgment and sound statistical theory are used, such procedure should not be condemned off-hand; the proper criterion is results obtained. However, positive results so obtained have actually been few; usually correlations were found which were just above the lower limit of possible significance. Moreover, uncritical handling of the statistics has led to grave errors, particularly in public discussions of earthquake risk.

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© 1964 Institute of Science and Technology, University of Michigan. VESIAC Report 4410-71-X.

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August 19, 2023
October 20, 2023