Earthquake Intensities

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Earthquake Intensities Earthquakes are a marvel of geology. When faults under the surface of the earth move, the ground moves. These earthquakes can be very mild, barely registering or they can be horrific with far-reaching consequences. Scientists have become fascinated with the study of earthquakes for centuries but it is only in recent years that quantified data has been collected and analyzed by scientists regarding these geologic phenomena. Before the invention of the Richter scale, less accurate means of measuring an earthquake's intensity were used by geological scientists. Until the early 1900s, earthquakes could only be measured after the earthquake had ended and then only approximations could be made. The first attempt at scientifically measuring an earthquake's intensity was performed in the middle of the nineteenth century. In Italy in 1857, the after effects of an earthquake were quantified (Lutgen 2011, page 179). A map was created to show the comparable damages that were found in different areas. This allowed geographers to make maps which would show the areas of highest intensity and how intensity lessened in surrounding areas. Although this was helpful, it only showed comparative intensities, not quantified data. In 1902, Giuseppe Mercalli developed what was called the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale. An American version of the Mercalli system was incorporated in 1931. This system judged intensity of earthquakes based upon the ways California
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