My First Earthquake

Petek and I were just getting to sleep last night when the walls started shaking.  We jumped out of bed, but before we could figure out what to do it was over.  The shaking lasted for about ten seconds, and there were several noticeable aftershocks over the next hour or so.

According to the news, the earthquake registered 6.0 on the Richter scale.  The epicenter was near Ilan, about 20 miles away from our apartment.  This was a moderate to strong earthquake and frightening enough, but it was (of course) dwarfed by the size of the Sichuan earthquake last month.  Since the Richter scale is a logarithmic measure of shaking amplitude, last night’s earthquake shook us 1/100th of the amplitude that the 8.0 Sichuan earthquake shook the Chinese (10^(8.0-6.0) = 100).  Making the comparison more complicated, the power of earthquakes apparently scales at 1.5 on the Richter scale, so last night’s earthquake was 1/1000 as powerful as the Sichuan earthquake ((10^(8.0-6.0))^1.5 = 1000).

The most surprising thing about the experience was that no one mentioned it this morning.  When I brought the earthquake up, my classmates told me they felt it but thought nothing of it.  Foiled again by habituation.


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