Measures: Earthquake magnitude. This is a logarithmic scale, plotting greatest displacement from 0 on seismometer after event occurs.

Range: 0 to 10+

Reference measurements:

0 – 3.4

This is normal. The first step in assessing earthquake severity is determining whether other people are noticing the Earth move as well. If only you seem to be experiencing the Earth moving, you are likely drunk or having an orgasm or both.


Not usually felt, but will be recorded. Earthquakes of this magnitude are often the result of office horseplay occurring too close to the seismometer (“Dude – careful!”).

3.6 – 4.5

Caused by yo’ mamma walkin’ by (zing!). You can feel these.

4.6 – 6.0

Here is where we start to get into some real earthshaking stuff – like when Britney Spears shaved her head or that time you saw a squirrel do a back-flip. (Corollary: afterwards, when the lights are still swinging and half the people around you are pale with fear, some luminary will inevitably ask “Did you feel that?”)


This level could have serious consequences, depending on when and where it hit. That 50 pound weather vane your Dad put up at his summer cottage will likely topple as will your crappy apartment building. But you’ll be studying down in some dank library somewhere, which means you’ll likely be booked to death when the stacks fall onto you.

7.0 – 7.9

Catastrophic. You should, if possible, consider being somewhere else. City swallowing cracks in the Earth’s crust are likely to appear. This is where people like Anne Coulter come from.


Repent sins, commit big sin you’ve been putting off, or both (time permitting). Concrete will be like J-E-L-L-O. Try force-feeding your shoe to anyone yelling about “the Rapture” before everything goes black.


Developed in 1935 by Charles Richter (no relation to former New York Rangers goaltender Mike) and Beno Gutenberg (no relation to “star” of Police Academy films Steve). The Richter scale represents yet another log scale that will inevitably bewilder the public (“Logarithmic? Isn’t that where someone uses a stump as a bass drum?”). Note: earthquakes only occurs in regions where people have angered God (unconfirmed).

Related quote:

“AAAAAAAHHHH!” (Richter, the guy in Total Recall who had his arms ripped off.)

Use of “Richter” in a sentence:

“Richter? Damn near killed her!”