Seismic Peak Ground Acceleration

The Iwate-Miyagi Nairiku earthquake struck northeast Honshu, Japan, on 14 June 2008.

This earthquake had a moment magnitude Mw 6.9 according to the USGS.

The peak ground acceleration (PGA) had a maximum vector sum (3 component) value of 4278 cm/sec^2 (4.36 G).

This is the highest ever recorded PGA, although other quakes have had higher moment magnitudes.  The Richter and moment magnitudes are a measure of the total energy released by a quake.

The PGA is measured at a point.  It depends on soil conditions, distance from the hypocenter, and other factors.


Masumi Yamada et al (July/August 2010). “Spatially Dense Velocity Structure Exploration in the Source Region of the Iwate-Miyagi Nairiku Earthquake”. Seismological Research Letters v. 81; no. 4;. Seismological Society of America. pp. 597–604. Retrieved 21 March 2011.

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Tohoku, Japan Earthquake 2011

The 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku was a magnitude 9.0 (Mw) undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan that occurred at 14:46 JST (05:46 UTC) on Friday 11 March 2011.

The largest peak ground acceleration (PGA) of 2.7 G was recorded in the North-South direction at Miyagi prefecture – MYG04 station.

Reference 1

Reference 2

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The highest PGA for earthquakes in the USA was 1.7 G for the 1994 Northridge, California quake, which had a 6.7 moment magnitude.

Reference:  Lin, Rong-Gong; Allen, Sam (26 February 2011). “New Zealand quake raises questions about L.A. buildings.” Los Angeles Times (Tribune). Retrieved 27 February 2011.

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The peak ground velocity (PGV) has a better correlation with structural damage according to some sources.

The largest recorded ground velocity from the 1994 Northridge earthquake, made at the Rinaldi Receiving station, reached 183 cm/sec (72 in/sec).

Reference:  USGS ShakeMap

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Further information is given at:  Vibrationdata Earthquake Engineering Page

– by Tom Irvine

2 thoughts on “Seismic Peak Ground Acceleration

  1. Pingback: Webinar 24 – Seismic Shock | Vibrationdata

  2. Pingback: Seismic Test & Analysis Webinars | Vibrationdata

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