Originally posted on Quartz:
This item has been corrected.
On April 25, Nepal was hit with the biggest earthquake in 80 years—but just how big was it?
Amidst the destruction, there was a spat on the issue between the US and China. The US Geological Survey (USGS), which monitors earthquakes worldwide, reported that the Nepal earthquake measured at a magnitude of 7.8. However, the China Earthquakes Network Center (CENC), which hopes to provide a similar service, measured the same earthquake at a magnitude of 8.1.
A difference of 0.3 in the magnitude of the seismic activity may not seem like much, but the apparently small differences in magnitudes of earthquakes reported by different agencies around the world are, in real-life, huge. Because if we are to believe the Chinese data, the Nepal earthquake may have been 2.8 times bigger than if we believe the US data.
This is because of how earthquakes are measured.
Scientists use a type of logarithmic scale to ensure…
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