The EMS, most recently updated in 1998, is the basis for evaluation of seismic intensity in European countries. Unlike earthquake magnitude, which indicates the energy a quake expends, EMS98 intensity denotes how strongly an earthquake affects a specific place. The European Macroseismic Scale has 12 divisions, as follows:
1. Not feltNot felt, even under the most favorable circumstances.
2. Scarcely feltVibration is felt only by individual people at rest in houses, especially on upper floors of buildings.
3. WeakThe vibration is weak and is felt indoors by a few people. People at rest feel a swaying or light trembling.
4. Largely observedThe earthquake is felt indoors by many people, outdoors by very few. A few people are awakened. The level of vibration is not frightening. Windows, doors and dishes rattle. Hanging objects swing.
5. StrongThe earthquake is felt indoors by most, outdoors by few. Many sleeping people awake. A few run outdoors. Buildings tremble throughout. Hanging objects swing considerably. China and glasses clatter together. The vibration is strong. Topheavy objects topple over. Doors and windows swing open or shut.
6. Slightly damagingFelt by most indoors and by many outdoors. Many people in buildings are frightened and run outdoors. Small objects fall. Slight damage to many ordinary buildings; for example, fine cracks in plaster and small pieces of plaster fall.
7. DamagingMost people are frightened and run outdoors. Furniture is shifted and objects fall from shelves in large numbers. Many ordinary buildings suffer moderate damage: small cracks in walls; partial collapse of chimneys.
8. Heavily damagingFurniture may be overturned. Many ordinary buildings suffer damage: chimneys fall; large cracks appear in walls and a few buildings may partially collapse.
9. DestructiveMonuments and columns fall or are twisted. Many ordinary buildings partially collapse and a few collapse completely.
10. Very destructiveMany ordinary buildings collapse.
11. DevastatingMost ordinary buildings collapse.
12. Completely devastatingPractically all structures above and below ground are heavily damaged or destroyed.
The complete detailed version of the European Macroseismic Scale is at the University of Potsdam, including illustrations.