Redefining how we feel the world

Ever wonder how big a magnitude 5 earthquake really was, or ponder over how much energy a magnitude 3 quake released? Well I am not saying I have the answers but I did construct this table relating joules released by varying magnitude earthquakes to more ‘tangible’ things. Energy released is based on surface wave magnitude form Beno Gutenberg and Charles Richter’s equation: logE = 4.8 + 1.5Ms.


Magnitude Joules What it feels like ‘Tangible comparison’
-3 2 What earthquake ? Amount of energy it takes to lift an apple
-2 60 What earthquake? Man pounding ground with a 3kg sledgehammer
-1 2000 What earthquake? Kinetic energy of M16 rifle bullet
0 60,000 What earthquake? Energy released by the metabolism of about 1 gram of fat
1 2,000,000 What earthquake? Approximate food energy of a large snickers bar
2 60,000,000 Felt by some Theoretical minimum energy required to accelerate 1 kg of matter to escape velocity from Earth’s surface
3 2,000,000,000 Felt by most Amount of potential chemical energy in a barrel of oil
4 60,000,000,000 Noticeable shaking Amount of energy it takes to lift 3E10 apples
5 2,000,000,000,000 Causing damage Small nuclear explosion


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