Tag Archives: richter scale


13 Jun

An earthquake (地震) just struck Japan.
Thankfully no 津波 (tsunami), injuries or property damage have been reported as of yet. But it was a pretty big earthquake…it registered as 6.1 on the Richter Scale or as a 5- on the 震度 (Shindo Scale) at the epicenter.

America and most other western countries use the “Richter Scale” to measure the intensity of earthquakes.
The Richter Scale simply measures the strength of the earthquake at it’s epicenter…it’s most intense point.
This scale technically has no upper limit but I believe the strongest earthquake measured on the Richter Scale was at 9.5.

Japan doesn’t use the Richter Scale. The 震度 (Shindo Scale) is used to measure the strength of earthquakes here.
This scale was invented centuries ago (unlike the Richter Scale, which was invented about 75 years ago), and it originally had only four levels.
Later it was increased to eight levels (0-7), and about fifteen years ago it was changed again to it’s current ten levels.
The ten intensity levels on the Shindo Scale are “0” (which is an earthquake too slight to be noticed by humans), “1“, “2“, “3“, “4“, “5弱” (“5-“), “5強” (“5+”), “6弱” (“6-“), “6強” (“6+”), and “7“.

Another difference between the Richter Scale and the Shindo Scale is that unlike the Richter Scale (which simply assigns an earthquake an intensity based on it’s strength at the epicenter), the Shindo Scale assigns an earthquake different intensity ratings for everywhere that it affected.

For example, the earthquake that just struck Japan a couple hours ago was rated as “6.1” on the Richter Scale (as I mentioned above)…but on the Japanese Shindo Scale it was rated as “5弱” (“5-“) in the 東北地方 (“Tohoku Region” of Japan) which was closest to it’s epicenter.
“5-” level is strong enough to cause furniture to fall and even crack walls and damage pipes.
But in the Tokyo area (where I live), it was a level “3” which is strong enough to shake houses but doesn’t usually cause anything to fall over.
Nothing fell in our house…but it was shaking and it’s quite an unsettling feeling!

I hate earthquakes.

Today's earthquake was a level 3 in Tokyo and 5- in Tohoku on the Shindo Scale.

Have you ever experienced an earthquake?

地震だ (+_+)

8 May

A fairly big 地震 (earthquake) just hit Japan!

The epicenter was in the Pacific Ocean near 茨城県 (Ibaraki Prefecture) north of Tokyo.

It registered a “5” on the Japanese earthquake scale (Japan doesn’t use the Richter Scale). The Japanese Shindo Earthquake Scale goes from 1 (mild tremors) up to 7 (can topple buildings).

One main difference between the Japanese scale and the Richter Scale is that the Richter Scale assigns an earthquake one rating based on it’s strength at the epicenter…but the Japanese scale assigns an earthquake different ratings for how strong it was at different locations.

So, this earthquake was a level five at the epicenter, but in Tokyo it registered a level three. Big enough to shake our apartment, but nothing fell down in our house…and my kids slept right through it.

But it raised my wife’s and my heart-rate.

A Japanese expression, translated into English, says that the four scariest things are, in order:

Earthquakes, lightning, fire, and a father’s wrath.

I hate earthquakes!