11 March 2011

My new earthquake magnitude scale

After hearing the terrifying news about what has happened in Japan, and hearing just how massive the earthquake was, seeing videos of it, the tsunami it generated and the aftermath, I realized that reports of its magnitude, especially initially, varied widely. So widely, in fact, that some reported that the earthquake was an 8.1, others an 8.8-8.9, and on the USGS website, only a 7.1. Part of the reason for this is the methods at which the measurements are obtained, and also the type of scale the number is reported (Reichter or Moment). But, with different ways the earthquake can be measured and the different unit systems used for reporting, the numbers lose their meaning. So I decided to make this layman's term scale for determining the scale of an earthquake (as observed by a native Californian), after the break.

 In increasing order of severity:
  1. Damn military helicopters!
  2. Was that a semi/train going by?
  3. Wake you up from your sleep jolt.
  4. Hey, did you feel that? No, eh, must've been my imagination.
  5. Hey, the chandelier is swaying a little.
  6. Whoa, the pool is sloshing everywhere.
  7. We should get under the desk/table/doorway.
  8. Get out of the building!
  9. I can't stand up! I keep falling over!
  10. OH MY GOD! WE'RE GONNA DIE!
From the videos I've seen, Japan's earthquake falls between number 8 and 10 on my scale. Granted, for me, earthquakes are interesting, fascinating and intrigue me by their sheer unstoppable force, but one thing is certain: I definitely would not want to be in the Japanese quake! My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone and their families in Japan who were affected by this natural disaster.

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