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The Richter-Gutenberg Power Law for Earthquakes

First, your fundamental starting point for asset management strategy and budgeting: the power law phenomenon. Power laws appear throughout nature, and it turns out bodies of infrastructure assets are included. It's why the Richter Scale is a log scale. The scale derives from Richter's work, as recently as 1956. Richter six earthquakes are ten times as bad as Richter five; but we get about one-tenth as many of them. Richter seven, one-tenth as many again, and so on. Since I now live in Vancouver where we are expecting the Very Big One, it's nice to think the Fairly Big One is ten times as likely.

It turns out nearly every natural disaster obeys power laws as well. Once they started looking, power laws were everywhere.

© Roy Brander, P.Eng 2016