Tuesday, April 26, 2016

NPM Celebrations - Richter Scale Day

April 26th is Richter Scale Day. The Richter Scale is a numerical scale developed for measuring earthquakes by Charles Richter, a geologist at the California Institute of Technology.  The Richter scale is a logarithmic scale that measures "magnitude" and reflects the amount by which the earth's crust shifts during an earthquake. Because the scale is logarithmic, each 1-point increase on the scale represents an increase of 10x in the magnitude of the earthquake. Here's a simple chart to help understand the scale.
Image from CBC NewsWorld
Here's a bit more about the scale.
You can learn more about the science earthquakes at the USGS.

Earthshake: Poems From the Ground Up (2003), written by Lisa Westberg Peters and illustrated by Cathie Felstead, is a collection of 22 poems that introduces geologic concepts through metaphor and word play in a variety of poetic forms.

River Meets Crack in the Earth

A river crosses the San Andreas fault.
It turns right, then continues on,
a little shaken up.

Instructions for the Earth's Dishwasher

Please set the
continental plates
gently on the
continental shelves.
No jostling or scraping.

Please stack the
basin right side up.
No tilting or turning

Please scrape the mud
out of the mud pots.
But watch out!
They're still hot.

As for the forks
in the river,
just let them soak.

if anything breaks,
it's your fault.

Poems © Lisa Westberg Peters, 2003. All rights reserved.

GOT Geography! (2006), selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Philip Stanton, is a collection of 16 poems about the geography of the earth, as well as ecosystems and features found on its surface. There are poems for islands, forests, mountains, the sea, and more.

Awesome Forces

The earth is
it would seem,
for here and about
it lets off
lava flows,
geysers gush,
canyons are carved
          by a river's
The earth's old crust
cracks and creaks,
shakes and
          shoves up
Ice caps recede,
glaciers advance,
ever in motion—
          a global dance.
          Will it ever
stand still?

          no chance

Poem © Joan Bransfield Graham, 2006. All rights reserved.

National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More than 200 Poems With Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom! (2015), edited by J. Patrick Lewis, is  a collection of classic and contemporary poems that celebrate the variety of life and landscapes on Earth. One section of this book is called In Distress. The poem below has some interesting formatting that I could not reproduce here, so be sure to click the image above to see what it's meant to look like.


Dakota, first to sense a change,
Begins to whimper—passing strange.

Here comes the catastrophic whine:
The loss is yours, the fault is mine.

Tectonic plates can only shake
A continental bellyache

By stretching several feet or more
To rearrange themselves before

The settlements of Earth lie bare
Among the rubble of despair.

Poem © Mariel Bede. All rights reserved.

I'll wrap up today with this piece from PBS NewsHour. Kwame Dawes is a writer whose work include poems, plays, essays, criticism, and novels. He spent time in Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake, reporting on events and writing poetry in response. (This story was produced through a partnership with USA Today, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and the NewsHour.)
You'll find the video poem Mother of Mothers around minute 7:58.

That's it for today. I hope you'll join me tomorrow for our next celebration.


  1. You are really doing an amazing job with these posts, Tricia! So much information and poetry every day. Wow! I love "Earth's dishwasher."

    1. Thank you, Tabatha. It's been so much fun this month. I've been able to pull out books I haven't read in a while.

      I'm so glad you've been stopping by!