It must be said again, reporting the strength of an earthquake with the Richter Scale is useless and confusing.
Seriously folks, last night a Magnitude 7.4 earthquake hit Tokyo. You might have seen it in the news. 7.4? The first thing to do after seeing that number is to research where it was felt, if there was there damage and how severe. So, if the number just communicates “strong earthquake”, why use the number at all?
The Richter Scale measures the energy released near the epicenter of the quake. What if the quake happened deep under water, or near the surface, or on soft ground, or solid bedrock? M7 just tells the energy of that quake regardless of where it is, what type, and other things that are only relevant to geologist and earthquake cards collectors. Saying M7 is basically useless, misleading at best, for most of us on the surface where things actually shake during the event.
Not only that, it is measured on a logarithmic scale! That means that a M6 earthquake is not twice as powerful as an M3, it is 1,000 times more powerful! Great, we need to review calculus to understand the increase in the scale.
If the Richter Scale is useless and confusing for most of us, why is it used so much? Seriously, WHY?!
In Japan the report on the Shindo Scale, which tells about the intensity felt on the ground in different places. Take a look at the report from the earthquake last night.
It is easy to see how people felt in different places and the potential for damage.
The Mercalli Scale, which similar to the Shindo Scale, also measures the intensity on the ground. Why do news headlines never lead with this?
Most people don’t know about these more relevant numbers. I, for one, remember having the same issues with the Richter Scale when I learned it in high school, but didn’t remember any alternatives to it before moving to Japan. No thanks to you, news media!
There, I said it.
Now can we go back to checking bounce rates as the best metric for success in all web analytics? I’m joking here.