It’s based on calculations from a Richter scale. THe magnitude of an earthquake is decided based on the zigzag line a seismograph records. As for the varying intensity, the calculations are such that a 4.0 earthquake will be ten times stronger than a 3.0, a 6.0 ten times stronger than a 5.0, and so on. The first site is a earthquake simulator that’s quite interesting to use, the second is a more in detail overview of seismographs.
There are 2 types of scales: the richter scale and mercalli scale. Check out the link for more information.
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