China seismic intensity scale

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The China seismic intensity scale (CSIS) is a national standard in the People's Republic of China[1] used to measure seismic intensity. Similar to EMS-92 on which CSIS drew reference, seismic impacts are classified into 12 degrees of intensity, or liedu (Chinese: 烈度; pinyin: lièdù, literally "degrees of violence") in Roman numerals from I for insensible to XII for landscape reshaping.

The scale was initially formalized by the China Earthquake Administration (CEA) in 1980, therefore often referred to by its original title as "China Seismic Intensity Scale (1980)". It was later revised, and adopted as a national standard, or Guobiao, series GB/T 17742-1999 by then National Quality and Technology Supervision Administration (now General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine of P.R.C., AQSIQ) in 1999.[2] The standard was set for revision not long before the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.[3]

Liedu scale[edit]

Unlike the magnitude scales that objectively estimate the released seismic energy, liedu denotes how strongly an earthquake affects a specific place. It is determined by a combination of subjective evaluations (such as human senses and building damage) and objective kinetic measures. Building damage are further refined with a combination of descriptive qualifiers and a numeric evaluation process.

The following is an unofficial translation of the Appendix I of GB/T 17742-1999.

Liedu scale[2]
Liedu (Intensity) Senses by people on the ground Degree of building damage Other damage Horizontal motion on the ground
Damage Mean damage index Peak acceleration m/s2 Peak speed m/s
I Insensible
II Sensible by very few still indoor people
III Sensible by a few still indoor people Slight rattle of doors and windows Slight swing of suspended objects
IV Sensible by most people indoors, a few people outdoors; a few wake up from sleep Rattle of doors and windows Obvious swing of suspended objects; vessels rattle
V Commonly sensible by people indoors, sensible by most people outdoors; most wake up from sleep Noise from vibration of doors, windows, and building frames; falling of dusts, small cracks in plasters, falling of some roof tiles, bricks falling from a few roof-top chimneys Rocking or flipping of unstable objects 0.31
(0.22 - 0.44)
(0.02 - 0.04)
VI Most unable to stand stably, a few scared to running outdoors Damage - Cracks in the walls, falling of roof tiles, some roof-top chimneys crack or fall apart 0 - 0.10 Cracks in river banks and soft soil; occasional burst of sand and water from saturated sand layers; cracks on some standalone chimneys 0.63
(0.45 - 0.89)
(0.05 - 0.09)
VII Majority scared to running outdoors, sensible by bicycle riders and people in moving motor vehicles Slight destruction - localized destruction, crack, may continue to be used with small repairs or without repair 0.11 - 0.30 Collapse of river banks; frequent burst of sand and water from saturated sand layers; many cracks in soft soils; moderate destruction of most standalone chimneys 1.25
(0.90 - 1.77)
(0.10 - 0.18)
VIII Most swing about, difficult to walk Moderate destruction - structural destruction occurs, continued usage requires repair 0.31 - 0.50 Cracks appear in hard dry soils; severe destruction of most standalone chimneys; tree tops break; death of people and cattle caused by building destruction 2.50
(1.78 - 3.53)
(0.19 - 0.35)
IX Moving people fall Severe destruction - severe structural destruction, localized collapse, difficult to repair 0.51 - 0.70 Many cracks in hard dry soils; possible cracks and dislocations in bedrock; frequent landslides and collapses; collapse of many standalone chimneys 5.00
(3.54 - 7.07)
(0.36 - 0.71)
X Bicycle riders may fall; people in unstable state may fall away; sense of being thrown up Most collapse 0.71 - 0.90 Cracks in bedrock and earthquake fractures; destruction of bridge arches founded in bedrock; foundation damage or collapse of most standalone chimneys 10.00
(7.08 - 14.14)
(0.72 - 1.41)
XI Widespread collapse 0.91 - 1.00 Earthquake fractures extend a long way; many bedrock cracks and landslides
XII Drastic change in landscape, mountains, and rivers

Notes about qualifiers: "very few" - <10%; "few" - 10% - 50%; "most" - 50% - 70%; "majority" - 70% - 90%; "commonly" - >90%.


Historic local seismic liedu is an important reference in quake proofing existing and future buildings. The national standard Code for Seismic Design of Buildings (GB 500011-2001) published in 2001 and partially revised shortly after the 2008 Sichuan earthquake includes a list of liedu that each building in designated cities is expected to resist.[4]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Effectively this only applies to mainland China. Hong Kong and Taiwan each use a different intensity scale. See Seismic intensity scales for more details.
  2. ^ a b CHEN Dasheng, SHI Zhenliang, XU Zonghe, GAO Guangyi, NiAN Jiaquan, XIAO Chengye, FENG Yijun (陈达生、时振梁、徐宗和、高光伊、鄢家全、肖承邺、冯义钧) (1999-04-26). "China Seismic Intensity Scale (中国地震烈度表)" (in Chinese). General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine of P.R.C. Archived from the original on 2008-10-29. Retrieved 2008-09-12.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "Revision of "China Seismic Intensity Scale" started (《中国地震烈度表》修订工作启动)" (in Chinese). China Earthquake Administration (中国地震局). 1999-04-26. Retrieved 2008-09-12.
  4. ^ XU Zhengzhong, WANG Yayong, et al. (徐正忠、王亚勇等) (2001). "Code for seismic design of buildings (GB 500011-2001) (partially revised in 2008), Appendix A ( 《建筑抗震设计规范》(GB 500011-2001) (2008 年局部修订) 附录 A 我国主要城镇抗震设防烈度、设计基本地震加速度和设计地震分组)". Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of PRC (MOHURD, 中华人民共和国住房和城乡建设部). Retrieved 2008-09-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

External links[edit]

  • Spencer, B.F.; Hu, Y. X. (2001). Earthquake Engineering Frontiers in the New Millennium: Proceedings of the China-US Millennium Symposium on Earthquake Engineering, Beijing, 8–11 November 2000. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-90-265-1852-2.