City-Data Forum what's the limit on how big an earthquake can be? (power, format)
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03-17-2013, 03:33 PM
 Location: Denver 2,976 posts, read 2,395,835 times Reputation: 1819

I believe the biggest earthquake in recent history has been a 9.1 which caused the tsunami in Indonesia. But how much bigger can earthquakes get? I know the scale is logarithmic, so something like a 52.2 would split the earth apart, correct?

03-18-2013, 04:20 AM
Quote:
 Originally Posted by Phil P I believe the biggest earthquake in recent history has been a 9.1 which caused the tsunami in Indonesia. But how much bigger can earthquakes get? I know the scale is logarithmic, so something like a 52.2 would split the earth apart, correct?
9.9 is as high as the Richter scale goes but we get quakes here in B.C. and the PNW and Alaska get quakes all the time but the USGS awnsers your question and the link is posted below the Answer and hope that helps and if their is a 9.9 chances are I would be in trouble but then again living in the pacific ring of fire is a interesting geological place where quakes super volcanoes come together to make sure that a 9.9 really is a bad day to be living and located near or be on a boat near land anywhere on the pacific ocean.

If an earthquake's strength was 9.9 what would happen?

The largest earthquake was a 9.5 event along the coast of Chile in 1960. The second largest was a 9.2 along the southern coast of Alaska in 1964. A 9.9 earthquake would be 4/10 of a unit larger than that of Chile, so it would release 10 raised to the power (1.5*4/10) = 4 times as much energy. The fault length would also be about 4 times longer, or 4,000 km. Although we don't expect an earthquake of this size, one of the places it might conceivably occur would be along the Aleutian/Alaska subduction zone.

Source: National Earthquake Information Center - NEIC

03-18-2013, 05:33 AM
 3,523 posts, read 3,752,288 times Reputation: 2170
i think i remember reading once that theoretically there is no limit.

03-19-2013, 11:00 AM
 15,924 posts, read 16,850,438 times Reputation: 7619
To flush out GTO's facts.....

Quote:
 Can “Mega Quakes” really happen? THEORETICALLY, YES. REALISTICALLY, NO. The magnitude of an earthquake is related to the length of the fault on which it occurs -- the longer the fault, the larger the earthquake. The San Andreas Fault is only 800 miles long. To generate an earthquake of 10.5 magnitude would require the rupture of a fault that is many times the length of the San Andreas Fault. No fault long enough to generate a magnitude 10.5 earthquake is known to exist. The largest earthquake ever recorded was a magnitude 9.5 on May 22, 1960 in Chile on a fault that is almost 1,000 miles long. The magnitude scale is open-ended, meaning that science has not put a limit on how strong an earthquake could be, and scientists can’t rule out a “Mega Quake” because they’ve only been measuring earthquakes for 100 years, a blink of an eye in geologic time. However, scientists agree that “Mega Quakes” of magnitude 10 or more are implausible.
Earthquake Facts & Earthquake Fantasy

http://www.iris.edu/edu/10.5/EQSimulator.html

03-19-2013, 02:20 PM
 Location: Denver 2,976 posts, read 2,395,835 times Reputation: 1819
^^ Thanks
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