Magnitude Description Mercalli intensity Average earthquake effects Average frequency of occurrence (estimated)
Less than 2.0 Micro I Microearthquakes, not felt, or felt rarely by sensitive people. Recorded by seismographs. Continual/several million per year
2.0–2.9 Minor I to II Felt slightly by some people. No damage to buildings. Over one million per year
3.0–3.9 II to IV Often felt by people, but very rarely causes damage. Shaking of indoor objects can be noticeable. Over 100,000 per year
4.0–4.9 Light IV to VI Noticeable shaking of indoor objects and rattling noises. Felt by most people in the affected area. Slightly felt outside. Generally causes none to minimal damage. Moderate to significant damage very unlikely. Some objects may fall off shelves or be knocked over. 10,000 to 15,000 per year
5.0–5.9 Moderate VI to VIII Can cause damage of varying severity to poorly constructed buildings. At most, none to slight damage to all other buildings. Felt by everyone. Casualties range from none to a few. 1,000 to 1,500 per year
6.0–6.9 Strong VII to X Damage to a moderate number of well-built structures in populated areas. Earthquake-resistant structures survive with slight to moderate damage. Poorly designed structures receive moderate to severe damage. Felt in wider areas; up to hundreds of miles/kilometers from the epicenter. Strong to violent shaking in epicentral area. Death toll ranges from none to 25,000. 100 to 150 per year
7.0–7.9 Major VIII or greater Causes damage to most buildings, some to partially or completely collapse or receive severe damage. Well-designed structures are likely to receive damage. Felt across great distances with major damage mostly limited to 250 km from epicenter. Death toll ranges from none to 250,000. 10 to 20 per year
8.0–8.9 Great Major damage to buildings, structures likely to be destroyed. Will cause moderate to heavy damage to sturdy or earthquake-resistant buildings. Damaging in large areas. Felt in extremely large regions. Death toll ranges from 1,000 to 1 million. One per year
9.0 and greater Near or at total destruction - severe damage or collapse to all buildings. Heavy damage and shaking extends to distant locations. Permanent changes in ground topography. Death toll usually over 50,000. One per 10 to 50 years

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