Earthquake Magnitude Scales

by Otto W. Nuttli, Prof. of Geophysics; Dept. of Earth and Atmospheric Sci., St. Louis Univ., St. Louis, Mo. 63103,
Robert B. Herrman, Assoc. Prof. of Geophysics; Dept. of Earth and Atmospheric Sci., St. Louis Univ., St. Louis, Mo. 63103,


Serial Information: Journal of the Geotechnical Engineering Division, 1982, Vol. 108, Issue 5, Pg. 783-786


Document Type: Journal Paper

Abstract: The use and meaning of earthquake magnitude scales are examined. Common misunderstandings regarding local magnitude, surface wave magnitude, and body-wave magnitude, are discussed and clarified. It is shown that no single magnitude will adequately describe the size of an earthquake, and that different geographic regions pose different requirements. Inter-relations between seismic moment and the various types of magnitude are examined. Magnitudes are recommended for equations or curves which specify the strong ground-motion acceleration, velocity, displacement, or response spectra as a function of distance from the earthquake source.

Subject Headings: Earthquakes | Earthquake magnitude scale | Surface waves | Seismic tests | Seismic effects | Curvature | Ground motion | Displacement (mechanics)

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