In this activity, students study damage descriptions from earthquakes and allocate a Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) number.

By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

  • understand the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale
  • look at damage descriptions of historic New Zealand earthquakes and allocate Modified Mercalli Intensity scale numbers to them
  • understand the difference between magnitude and intensity of earthquakes.

Download the Word file (see link below) for:

  • introduction/background
  • what you need
  • what to do
  • discussion questions
  • simplified New Zealand Modified Mercalli Intensity scale
  • information about 6 New Zealand earthquakes.

Useful links

Watch this animated video which graphically compares the relative 'sizes' of a selection of major earthquakes in the 20th and 21st centuries by their moment magnitudes. Perspective: a graphical comparison of earthquake energy release, is from the US NWS Pacific Warning Centre.

Acknowledgment

This activity was developed for the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and has been kindly provided for use on the Science Learning Hub.

    Published 17 November 2009