eli5: How exactly does the Richter scale measure how strong an earthquake is? What happens at 10 (the top end, as Iunderstand it)?

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eli5: How exactly does the Richter scale measure how strong an earthquake is? What happens at 10 (the top end, as Iunderstand it)?

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Its logarithmic – each integer is 10x higher than the previous. You hit 10, the Earth is toast.

I exaggerate, and if we had a 10, the scale would have to go to 11, but that is unlikely.

The [Richter scale](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richter_magnitude_scale#Richter_magnitudes) is logarithmic, with each whole number the amount of energy released during the earthquake increases by a multitude compared to the previous number, so it doesn’t really end at 10. In the book “What it…” of Randall Munroe, author of the XKCD comics, it is also mentioned that an earthquake of scale 15 would tear the entire Earth to pieces. In the other direction a scale 0 earthquake is equal to a football team throwing themselves against the garage of your neighbor, scale -1 is 1 football player throwing themselves against a tree and -15 was a particle of dust settling atop a table.