Wikipedia provides a list of deadly earthquakes since 1900. Where would the April 2015 Nepal earthquake (magnitude currently estimated as 7.8 or 8.1) rank in this list, in terms of magnitude?

  • $\begingroup$ I have edited your question. In doing so I assumed that you're interested in ranking by magnitude, and have added this stipulation to the question. If you wanted to ask about another ranking criterion (e.g. number of deaths), please edit your question to add that information. $\endgroup$
    – Pont
    Apr 27, 2015 at 17:36
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ What is wrong with sorting the Wikipedia table by magnitude and counting lines? $\endgroup$
    – Christoph
    Apr 28, 2015 at 13:24
  • $\begingroup$ The headline and the body of the question ask two slightly different things. I answered the one in the body. To answer the other one, sort a list of all earthquakes (here's one) by magnitude and count. For fun you could bake an equation for this based on some easy stats and a power law. $\endgroup$
    – Matt Hall
    Apr 28, 2015 at 14:56
  • $\begingroup$ if we are more concerned about damage then we should consider Intensity rather than talking about magnitude alone. $\endgroup$
    – shrey
    May 3, 2015 at 9:21

1 Answer 1


About 80th.

I counted the earthquakes of each magnitude on the List of deadly earthquakes... article. If the Nepal earthquake is about M7.8, then it's in the range 69th to 86th on that list:

Table of deadly earthquakes

Note that there are more earthquakes than this in recent history, the list has already selected for deadliness. Also note the point in the comments about different magnitude measures in the list, and the fact that the list is a few years out of date. I don't think these things change the answer.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm not down voting, but I don't think this is valid. The problem is all the different scales used to measure earthquakes; these scales are not comparable. The scales used by Japan, for example, peak at 7. $\endgroup$ Apr 28, 2015 at 14:57
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Fair point, but there are only about 6 events using that scale in the list of 1500 earthquakes, so I figure it's not going to change the rank much. The other scales are more comparable 'best guesses'. Maybe someone wants to reconcile the magnitudes back to power or some other basis... $\endgroup$
    – Matt Hall
    Apr 28, 2015 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ Apparently I couldn't make sense of my own counting... It wasn't about 100th, but about 80th, on that list of earthquakes (not all earthquakes). Edited. $\endgroup$
    – Matt Hall
    Apr 28, 2015 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ The issue I have with the article containing the data used in this answer is at the top of the article there is a statement dated May 2012, 3 years ago, that the data was out of date then because it lacked information about recent events, so the lack of data is even greater now. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Apr 29, 2015 at 1:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Fred: It looks like there are about 5 a year on average, so we'd expect about 15 extra or so in the list, maybe 20. Since there are 1340 or so earthquakes in the list we'd only expect about one of the missing earthquakes to come above the earthquake in question. Thanks to the power law, most earthquakes are small! So it doesn't have much material effect, since there's already way more slop in the bin. $\endgroup$
    – Matt Hall
    Apr 29, 2015 at 2:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.