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MEEES – Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering

GEOTECHNICAL EARTHQUAKE ENGINEERING


Homework 1

Q1: Give a description of the following intensity scales:

a) MM (Modified Mercalli)
b) JMA (Japan)
c) EMS (European Macroseismic Scale)

The Intensity of an earthquake is a qualitative index that reflects the strength of ground shaking
(represented by human emotions and building damage) at a particular location during an earthquake.
Therefore, it is not really a measure of the size of the earthquake in the same way as moment or
magnitude, but rather a measure of ground motion.

The intensity is generally written in Roman number because it is not a continuous variable, even
though sometimes it is (wrongly) written as a decimal, in these cases, it means between two intensities
(7.5 means VII-VIII).

The description of the principal scales is reported below.

a) MM (Modified Mercalli)1

I. Not felt. Marginal and long-period effects of large earth quakes.

II. Felt by persons at rest, on upper floors, or favourably placed.

III. Felt indoors. Hanging objects swing. Vibration like passing of light trucks. Duration estimated. May not
be recognized as an earthquake.

IV. Hanging objects swing. Vibration like passing of heavy trucks; or sensation of a jolt like a heavy ball
striking the walls. Standing motor cars rock. Windows, dishes, doors rattle. Glasses clink. Crockery clashes.
In the upper range of IV wooden walls and frame creak.

V. Felt outdoors; direction estimated. Sleepers wakened. Liquids disturbed, some spilled. Small unstable
objects displaced or upset. Doors swing, close, open. Shutters, pictures move. Pendulum clocks stop, start,
change rate.

VI. Felt by all. Many frightened and run outdoors. Persons walk unsteadily. Windows, dishes, glassware,
broken. Knickknacks, books, etc., off shelves. Picture off walls. Furniture moved or overturned. Weak plaster
and masonry D cracked. Small bells ring (church, school). Trees, bushes shaken; visibly, or heard to rustle.

VII. Difficult to stand. Noticed by drivers of motor cars. Hanging objects quiver. Furniture broken. Damage
to masonry D, including cracks. Weak chimneys broken at roof line. Fall of plaster, loose bricks, stones, files,

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Reference for the scale description: Lecture Notes of professor Dario Slejko - Engineering Seismology and Seismic
Hazard Assessment – MEEES Program.

Lecturer: Prof Athanasopoulos George Student: Geraldo Jaho


MEEES – Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering

cornices, unbraced parapets and architectural ornaments. Some cracks in masonry C. Waves on ponds; water
turbid with mud. Small slides and caving in along sand or gravel banks. Large bells ring. Concrete irrigation
ditches damaged.

VIII. Steering of motor cars affected. Damage to masonry C; partial collapse. Some damage to masonry B;
none to masonry A. Fall of stucco and some masonry walls. Twisting, fall of chimneys, factory stacks,
monuments, towers, elevated tanks. Frame houses moved on foundations if not bolted down; loose panel walls
thrown out. Decayed piling broken off. Branches broken from trees. Changes in flow or temperature of springs
and wells. Cracks in wet ground and on steep slopes.

IX. General panic. Masonry D destroyed; masonry C heavily damaged, sometimes with complete collapse;
masonry B seriously damaged. General damage to foundations. Frame structures, if not bolted, shifted off
foundations. Frames racked. Serious damage to reservoirs. Underground pipes broken. Conspicuous cracks in
ground. In alluviated areas sand and mud ejected, earthquake fountains, sand craters.

X. Most masonry and frame structures destroyed with their foundations. Some well-built wooden structures
and bridges destroyed. Serious damage to dams, dikes, embankments. Large landslides. Water thrown on banks
of canals, rivers, lakes, etc. Sand and mud shifted horizontally on beaches and flat land. Rails bent slightly.

XI. Rails bent greatly. Underground pipelines completely out of service.

XII. Damage nearly total. Large rock masses displaced. Lines of sight and level distorted. Objects thrown into
the air.

b) JMA (Japan)2

I. Felt by only some people in the building. (pga 0.008–0.025 m/s²)

II. Felt by many people in the building. Some sleeping people awake. (pga 0.025– 0.08 m/s²)

III. Felt by most people in the building. Some people are frightened. (pga 0.08–0.25 m/s²)

IV. Many people are frightened. Some people try to escape from danger. Most sleeping people awake. (pga
0.25–0.80 m/s²)

V. Most people try to escape from danger, some finding it difficult to move. In many cases, unreinforced
concrete-block walls collapse and tombstones overturn. Many automobiles stop due to difficulty in driving.
Occasionally, poorly installed vending machines fall. (pga 0.8–2.50 m/s²)

VI. In some buildings, wall tiles and windowpanes are damaged and fall. In many buildings, wall tiles and
windowpanes are damaged and fall. Most unreinforced concrete-block walls collapse. (pga 2.5–4.00 m/s²)

VII. In most buildings, wall tiles and windowpanes are damaged and fall. In some cases, reinforced concrete-
block walls collapse. (pga greater than 4 m/s²)

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Reference for the scale description: Lecture Notes of professor Dr. P. Anbazhagan - Introduction to Engineering
Seismology.

Lecturer: Prof Athanasopoulos George Student: Geraldo Jaho


MEEES – Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering

c) EMS (European Macroseismic Scale)3

I. Not felt.

II. Scarcely felt. Felt only by very few individual people at rest in houses.

III. Weak. Felt indoors by a few people. People at rest feel a swaying or light trembling.

IV. Largely observed. Felt indoors by many people, outdoors by very few. A few people are awakened.
Windows, doors and dishes rattle.

V. Strong. Felt indoors by most, outdoors by few. Many sleeping people awake. A few are frightened.
Buildings tremble throughout. Hanging objects swing considerably. Small objects are shifted. Doors and
windows swing open or shut.

VI. Slightly damaging. Many people are frightened and run outdoors. Some objects fall. Many houses suffer
slight non-structural damage like hair-line cracks and fall of small pieces of plaster.

VII. Damaging. Most people are frightened and run outdoors. Furniture is shifted, and objects fall from shelves
in large numbers. Many well-built ordinary buildings suffer moderate damage: small cracks in walls, fall of
plaster, parts of chimneys fall down; older buildings may show large cracks in walls and failure of fill-in walls.

VIII. Heavily damaging. Many people find it difficult to stand. Many houses have large cracks in walls. A few
well-built ordinary buildings show serious failure of walls, while weak older structures may collapse.

IX. Destructive. General panic. Many weak constructions collapse. Even well-built ordinary buildings show
very heavy damage: serious failure of walls and partial structural failure.

X. Very destructive. Many ordinary well-built buildings collapse.

XI. Devastating. Most ordinary well-built buildings collapse, even some with good earthquake resistant design
are destroyed.

XII. Completely devastating. Almost all buildings are destroyed.

Different scale has different description, the major differences are shown between the Japanese scale
and the other two scales; for example, while for MM and EMS the first signs of non-structural damage
(meaning first cracks) correspond to the intensity VI, for the JMA there is already the collapse of
unreinforced concrete-block at the intensity V. There is no right or wrong scale, it can just be said that this is
a result of the culture and the population that experienced earthquakes.

One interesting concept is introduced in the EMS, where a classification among different class type
is made (masonry, reinforced concrete, steel, timber) and for each class a different vulnerability index,
with an associated uncertainty, is given.

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Reference for the scale description: Lecture Notes of professor Dario Slejko - Engineering Seismology and Seismic
Hazard Assessment – MEEES Program.

Lecturer: Prof Athanasopoulos George Student: Geraldo Jaho


MEEES – Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering

Q2: Prove that by increasing the magnitude by 1 unit, the corresponding energy release is about
32 times higher.

Event 1: MS,1 = m
Event 2: MS,2 = (m+1)

An estimate of the energy release is given by:

log 𝐸 = 11.8 + 1.5 ∙ 𝑀𝑆

And therefore, the energy associated to the two events is:

log 𝐸1 = 11.8 + 1.5 ∙ 𝑚 ⟶ 𝐸1 = 10(11.8+1.5𝑚)

log 𝐸2 = 11.8 + 1.5 ∙ (𝑚 + 1) ⟶ 𝐸2 = 10(11.8+1.5+1.5𝑚)

And finally, by doing the ratio of the two events we obtain:

𝐸2 10(11.8+1.5+1.5𝑚)
= = 101.5 = 31.6 ≈ 32
𝐸1 10(11.8+1.5𝑚)

The event 2, at which corresponds an increase of 1 unit in magnitude, shows about a 32-times higher energy
release.

Lecturer: Prof Athanasopoulos George Student: Geraldo Jaho


MEEES – Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering

Lecturer: Prof Athanasopoulos George Student: Geraldo Jaho