Pure and Applied Geophysics

, Volume 168, Issue 5, pp 753–766 | Cite as

Estimating Intensities and/or Strong Motion Parameters Using Civilian Monitoring Videos: The May 12, 2008, Wenchuan Earthquake

  • Xiaolin Yang
  • Zhongliang WuEmail author
  • Changsheng Jiang
  • Min Xia


One of the important issues in macroseismology and engineering seismology is how to get as much intensity and/or strong motion data as possible. We collected and studied several cases in the May 12, 2008, Wenchuan earthquake, exploring the possibility of estimating intensities and/or strong ground motion parameters using civilian monitoring videos which were deployed originally for security purposes. We used 53 video recordings in different places to determine the intensity distribution of the earthquake, which is shown to be consistent with the intensity distribution mapped by field investigation, and even better than that given by the Community Internet Intensity Map. In some of the videos, the seismic wave propagation is clearly visible, and can be measured with the reference of some artificial objects such as cars and/or trucks. By measuring the propagating wave, strong motion parameters can be roughly but quantitatively estimated. As a demonstration of this ‘propagating-wave method’, we used a series of civilian videos recorded in different parts of Sichuan and Shaanxi and estimated the local PGAs. The estimate is compared with the measurement reported by strong motion instruments. The result shows that civilian monitoring video provide a practical way of collecting and estimating intensity and/or strong motion parameters, having the advantage of being dynamic, and being able to be played back for further analysis, reflecting a new trend for macroseismology in our digital era.


Intensity parameters of strong ground motion civilian monitoring video macroseismology 



Thanks are due to the Data Management Centre of China National Seismic Network at the Institute of Geophysics, China Earthquake Administration, for providing waveform data for this study. We thank Dr. Zhao Yizhe and Dr. Peng Hanshu for their help with this work, and Prof. Chen Zuyu and Dr. Miao Chonggang for stimulating discussions. Thanks are also due to the anonymous referees for their encouraging comments and suggestions for making the descriptions more clear. This work is supported by NSFC Project 40674018.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaolin Yang
    • 1
  • Zhongliang Wu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Changsheng Jiang
    • 2
  • Min Xia
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Computational GeodynamicsGraduate University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Institute of GeophysicsChina Earthquake AdministrationBeijingChina

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