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If there’s ever a day to hold onto hats, double-test foundations and keep an ear out for rumblings deep within the Earth, it’s National Richter Scale Day! This occasion acts as an acknowledgement and celebration of the birthday of the man who taught the world how to measure the magnitude and impacts of earthquakes: Charles F. Richter.

History of National Richter Scale Day

An earthquake can easily be defined as an intense shaking of the surface of the earth, but anyone who has lived through one can know that it is way more than that! The quaking of the earth’s surface is caused by changing and shifting in the tectonic plates that lie just below the surface of the planet.

Too much shifting and changing can lead to cracks, or faults, in the earth’s surface that then become susceptible to movement and earthquakes. Certain geographical areas are more likely to experience earthquakes, particularly those places that lie along the rim of the Pacific Ocean. Because of this, as well as volcanic activity, the area has become known as the “Ring of Fire”.

Up until the early 20th century, scientists didn’t have any legitimate way to measure the size and impact of an earthquake. That is, until Charles F. Richter came up with a way to measure seismic waves.

Born in 1900, this American earthquake obsessive (technically known as a ‘seismologist’) came up with his Richter Scale in 1935 while he was at the California Institute of Technology. Since then, the world has been able to use this information to accurately compare various earthquakes and investigate their relative power for destruction.

National Richter Scale Day offers an excellent opportunity to show appreciation for and celebrate not only Mr. Richter and his important scientific work, but also to pay honor to all scientists and their vital work.

How to Celebrate National Richter Scale Day

Shake things up a bit when celebrating National Richter Scale Day! Have fun showing appreciation for this day with a variety of plans and ideas, including some of these:

Host a National Richter Scale Day Gathering

Some people celebrate by getting together with a bunch of friends to watch their favorite disaster films. A variety of movies can be enjoyed in honor of this day, including titles like 1974’s Earthquake, 1999’s Aftershock: Earthquake in New York and 2003’s The Core, which are all popular choices among earthquake fans.

At this National Richter Scale Day party, don’t forget to include some snacks that connect with the theme of earthquakes. Get creative by making some Chocolate Crack Cookies or Maple Bacon Crack snacks. Or make some sugar cookies decorated like the planet earth, but with a large “crack” down the middle!

To make the gathering even more festive, perhaps create a fun playlist that will help with the celebration. Songs like Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos (1992), Going to California by Led Zeppelin (1971) or Shake Shake Shake by Tom Knight (2003) might be just right for the occasion!

Learn More About Earthquakes

One important way to observe National Richter Scale Day might be to brush up on information about earthquakes. If it’s been awhile since studying natural disasters in science class, this would be a great time to learn, or re-learn, some interesting facts and bits of trivia regarding this interesting phenomenon that takes place underground. 

  • The twentieth century’s largest  happened in Chile on 22 May 1960, measuring a magnitude of 9.5. The largest in the US was in Alaska in 1967, meeting 9.2 on the Richter scale. 

  • Up to half a million detectable earthquakes take place every year – many of them are too small to feel. 

  • In myths from Japanese culture, the cause of earthquakes came from giant catfish. 

  • The hypocenter of an earthquake is the place beneath the surface of the earth where the beginning of the rupture of the fault is located. 

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