One of the side effects of the recent earthquakes in Christchurch (over 1,000 aftershocks, and at several dozen biggies) that all us Christchurch locals are becoming pseudo self appointed experts on earthquakes.

The problem is however that the more quakes we get, the more it’s apparent the Richter scale is just not cutting it.   The best example was the most recent biggie this morning, which resulted in more FaceBook posts than anything other than the main 7.1 on September 4, but yet only got a 5 on the Richter scale.  However as reported, there was quite some damage, and people got hurt, and it certainly had MAJOR shaking (walls moves 20-30cm) around Christchurch, and power went out.

Even the alternative scale that GeoNet offers (using the MMI scale) doesn’t really cut it for me, coz what I have noticed is, rather obviously, different people respond differently to the same quake, based on a whole range of factors (how far away they are from it, shallow quakes = more violent etc).  So for example, I know the big 7.1 quake didn’t do anything to my office, but a 4.1 knocked stuff of my desk and walls (coz it was so close), so it’s kinda messed up.

So, in an effort to help make the world a bit more black and white (the name of the game for this blog remember?) I have invented a new scale, and with it an all new table.

The summary table:

Richard’s B&W Shake Table

B&W Rating Common language Evacuation Procedure

Did you feel that?

What was that?

You are kidding eh?  Even the cat just looks around and goes meh?

That was an earthquake for sure

Gee, that was fun

Cats, run outside or under the couch.  Dogs: Look worried, but stay put.

People: just the anxious will think they need to evacuate.  The rest keep working.


OMG – that was a big one.

Are you OK?

Women and children first.
Fuck FUCK!  Did you feel that Fuck women and children, get out of my way!

Within each shake rating there are nuances, such as the WHAT? rating can be broken down (in order from lowest to highest) into:

  • What was that?  Oh, it was nothing
  • Did you feel that?  Yeah I think someone slammed a door
  • Was that a truck?

Or the FUCK rating can be broken down (again, lowest to highest) into:

  • Fuck, an earthquake
  • OMG, Run for your fucking …(transmission goes dead).

Any area where people are saying fuck more than anything else is called the fuck zone.  Likewise for the shit, wow and what? zones (the later, having the question mark in the right place is important, since without the question mark it might just read what zone, meaning you have no idea what zone you are in).

So now, rather that just one number (as the Richter scales gives), you get the zone effect.  So here are two examples of made up quakes, which you can click on to get a bigger version:

A small quake

A big quake

The key thing here is BOTH quakes have a fuck zone, it’s just in the larger quake the fuck zone is bigger (in very small quakes, the most severe might only be a shit zone).  Also, some quakes can have a large fuck zone, but then scattered pockets of fuck within the shit zone (you know, people panicking for no good reason).  This would give the map a look like measles.

Important: Media should be careful in reporting quakes using my new scale to use the zones in context.  Because saying fuck zone, or shit zone, or what? zone without some explanation as to context and meaning might just confuse people, well at least until my new B&W scale is widely accepted and taught in schools. I expect this universal acceptance might take a while.

Black and White Version: A new earthquake scale has been invented.  Oh, and I gave today’s quake a solid fuck on the new scale.

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