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When was the earliest earthquake in China?


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#1 Gweilo

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Posted 05 June 2004 - 08:36 AM

Does anyone know the date of the earliest record of an earthquake in China? I'd also like to know where it occurred and its scope. Thanks.
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#2 Yun

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Posted 05 June 2004 - 09:39 AM

Fortunately, I bought a series of books on this topic last year - the History of Natural Disasters in Ancient China (《中国古代自然灾异》). It has excellent chronologies for every possible type of natural disaster in the Chinese records.

According to the Mo Zi 墨子, around the 23rd century BC, during the reign of the legendary Sage-King Shun 舜, "the three Miao tribes were in great disorder and for three nights it rained blood. A dragon appeared in the ancestral temple and dogs howled in the market place. Ice formed in summertime, the earth split open until springs gushed forth, the five grains (i.e. kinds of staple crop) grew all deformed, and the people were filled with a great terror."

If that sounds too mythical (and Mo Zi was writing it for polemical purposes), the next earliest earthquake on record is from the Bamboo Annals 竹书纪年, a Warring States historical text discovered in a tomb in the 3rd century AD. It states that in 1767 BC, in the tenth year of the reign of the last Xia king Jie 桀, "the five planets deviated in their courses, and there were meteor showers in the night. An earthquake occured, and the Yi and Luo Rivers dried up." The quake area was presumably in Henan, the heartland of the Xia state.
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#3 Gweilo

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Posted 05 June 2004 - 10:18 AM

Most excellent information, thanks. Amazing that there is a record of quakes so long ago. Does the book mention quakes occurring between 200-1400 CE ?
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#4 Yun

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Posted 06 June 2004 - 10:35 AM

Yes, plenty of them! Would you like information on quakes in a particular year or series of years?
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#5 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 06 June 2004 - 10:06 PM

I think, the chinese also invented the world's 1st seismograph, which is a machine that records the activities of earthquake. It's called "hun Tian Yi" (浑天仪), if I'm not wrong..(uhmm.. I'm not sure what it's called exactly in chinese, but I read it before somewhere)
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#6 thirdgumi

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Posted 07 June 2004 - 01:51 AM

I think, the chinese also invented the world's 1st seismograph, which is a machine that records the activities of earthquake. It's called "hun Tian Yi" (浑天仪), if I'm not wrong..(uhmm.. I'm not sure what it's called exactly in chinese, but I read it before somewhere)

I think it was not called "Hun Tian Yi" (浑天仪). "Hun Tian Yi" was used to observe celestrial constelations. It was another name.
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#7 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 07 June 2004 - 04:23 AM

Oh.. I think, I'm wrong.. but I remember Chinese inventing seismograph.. but I can't remember what's the name for it. I'll check it out.
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#8 Gweilo

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Posted 07 June 2004 - 09:01 AM

Yun, if it is not too much trouble could you supply information on all the major quakes your book lists between 200-1400 CE? I am most interested in those quakes that effected whole regions, not just individual cities.

If that is too much effort, I'll settle for the 1000-1400 CE period. Thanks so much! :D
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#9 Yun

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Posted 08 June 2004 - 05:45 AM

OK Gweilo, here goes. The list is still far from complete (i've had to compile it from different sections of the book), but it'll give a good idea of how frequent earthquakes were.

278 - Quake causes flooding of the Yangzi River.

286 - Quake in Jianwei 犍为 prefecture, Sichuan.

294 - Hebei (Beijing area) and Hubei (Shangyong area).

300 - Jilin in the northeast. Accompanied by drought, leads to cannibalism.

309 - Quake in Jingzhou 荆州 province, Hubei. Quake in Dangyang 当阳, Hubei.

314 - Shanxi.

315-316 - Pingyang 平阳 in Shanxi.

319 - Quake in Qishan 祁山, Gansu.

320 - Quake in Jiangxi and Hubei areas.

345 - Quake in Qinzhou 秦州 province, Gansu, and in Sichuan.

362-366 - Quakes in Liangzhou 凉州 province, Gansu.

363 - Yangzhou in Jiangsu, causes flooding of lake.

366 - Quake in Qinzhou and Yongzhou 雍州 provinces, Gansu.

374 - Quake in Liangzhou.

392 - Quake in Nanjing, followed by tidal waves that cause many deaths along the Jiangsu coast.

404 - Shandong, and Yuanchuan 苑川 in Gansu.

406 - Yuanchuan again.

408 - Shandong.

412 - Zhejiang.

416 - Quakes in Qinzhou.

419 - Quake in the capital (Nanjing).

436 - Quake in Nanjing.

462 - Quake in Yanzhou 兖州 province, Shandong.

474 - Shanxi.

478 - Bingzhou 并州, Shanxi and Qinzhou, Gansu.

481-483 - Quakes in Qinzhou.

486 - Bingzhou.

495 - Guangzhou 光州 in Shandong.

506 - Nanjing, Liangzhou.

508 - Shandong.

511 - Hengzhou 恒州 and Dingzhou 定州 in Hebei.

512 - Major quake in Shanxi, Hebei, and Henan (including Luoyang). 5,310 killed, 2,722 injured, more than 3,000 livestock killed. Quake in Qinzhou.

513 - Jizhou 济州, Shandong.

521 - Qinzhou.

536 - Nanjing.

548 - Jiangsu.

574 - Liangzhou.

624 - Sichuan.

734 - Qinzhou. Several thousands of homes destroyed, more than a hundred people killed. Crack opens in the ground, then seals itself.

777 - Hengzhou 恒州 and Dingzhou 定州 in Hebei, lasts three days.

787 - Shaanxi, including Chang'an.

788 - Chang'an, Hubei and Henan.

793 - Shaanxi, including Chang'an. City walls and houses destroyed.

814 - 8-10 day quake in Sichuan, more than a hundred killed.

842 - Qinghai and Gansu. The Tao river 洮水 flows backwards for three days.

866 - Shanxi.

876 - Xiongzhou 雄州, Hebei. City badly damaged, many killed.

879 - Quake in Chang'an.

895 - Shanxi.

928 - Shanxi.

939-940 - Sichuan.

952 - Sichuan.

962 - Zhejiang.

1011 - Sichuan and Hebei.

1022 - Shanxi.

1038 - Shanxi. More than 200 dead and 5,000 injured in Xinzhou 忻州 alone. 2,000 injured in Bingzhou and 700 in Daizhou 代州.

1044 - Xinzhou.

1046 - Dengzhou 登州 in Shandong. Mount Juyu collapses into the sea, and aftershocks continue for more than fifty years.

1050 - Xiuzhou 秀州 in Zhejiang.

1067 - Quake in Zhangzhou 漳州, Fujian. A dog walks out of the crack and trees are seen at its bottom (!)

1068 - Mozhou 莫州, Shandong, and Kaifeng 开封, Henan. Quake in Hebei causes flooding of the Yellow River.

1072 - Mount Shaohua 少华山 in Shaanxi.

1087 - Daizhou, Shanxi.

1100 - Anhui.

1122 - Xiongzhou, Hebei.

1124 - Henan and Gansu.

1125 - Gansu. Several hundred homes fall into the cracks.

1126 - Shanxi.

1133 - Zhejiang.

1135 - Hangzhou, Zhejiang.

1136 - Zhejiang.

1143 - Xiazhou 夏州 in Ningxia, several thousand homes destroyed.

1165 - Beijing.

1169 - Sichuan.

1180 - Beijing.

1209 - Pinyang, Shanxi.

1213 - Quake in Chun'an 淳安 county in Zhejiang.

1216 - Major quakes in Sichuan with landslides.

1222 - Hangzhou.

1240-1241 - Hangzhou.

1270 - Shandong, followed by tidal waves.

1288 - Zhejiang.

1290 - Serious quake in Beijing.

1303 - Shanxi. Huge destruction and "countless dead". Cracks in the ground look like canals.

1304 - Shanxi. Causes flooding.

1305 - Shanxi. Black water rushes out of the ground.

1311 - Ganzhou 甘州, Gansu.

1324 - Zhejiang, followed by tidal waves.

1327 - Simultaneous quakes in Shanxi, Shaanxi, Sichuan (Chengdu), Hubei. Tidal waves, typhoon and earthquake in Wenzhou, Zhejiang.

1332 - Quake in Beijing.

1334 - Quake in Beijing.

1336 - Quakes in Hubei and Anhui.

1341 - Quake in Shanxi.

1342 - Shanxi. Many houses destroyed, followed by drought and cannibalism.

1344 - Tidal waves, typhoon and earthquake in Wenzhou, Zhejiang (again).

1346 - Shaowu 邵武, Fujian.

1347 - Shandong.

1351 - Shanxi and Henan. Many deaths.

1352 - Gansu. Mountains shifted and valleys flooded, houses and people disappeared into the cracks.

1358 - Shandong.

1366 - Quakes in Gong 巩 county in Henan and Haizhou 海州 prefecture in Jiangsu. Quake with fatalities in Xinzhou 忻州, Shanxi - black water rushes from ground.

1367 - Shandong.

1372 - Guangzhou 广州 in Guangdong and Taiyuan 太原 in Shanxi.
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#10 Gweilo

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Posted 08 June 2004 - 06:48 AM

Yun, you are my hero! :rolleyes: Thanks very much for your time and effort.
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#11 Yun

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Posted 08 June 2004 - 10:02 AM

Gweilo, it sure took lots of time, but I'm always happy to be of service to a gweilo who loves Chinese history ;)

I've added some extra info to the list, and made some minor corrections.
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#12 Gweilo

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Posted 08 June 2004 - 10:39 AM

Wow, it must have been tough to live in Shanxi and Shandong. Those two seem to be the most devastated regions.

Thanks for your revision.
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#13 Yun

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Posted 09 June 2004 - 08:03 AM

It was quite bad in Gansu too. According to a map I have in the Atlas of Chinese Physical Geography, the major quake zones in north China are along the Gansu Corridor, the Shanxi plateau, the Xi'an (Chang'an) area, the Beijing area, the western and northern edges of the north China plain, and a long strip running from Shenyang in the northeast down south through western Shandong to Nanjing.

Sichuan, Yunnan, Tibet and Xinjiang also have large strips of quake activity. South China is relatively quake-free, except for the Fujian coast and Taiwan.
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#14 yau

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Posted 18 June 2004 - 12:03 PM

I think it was not called "Hun Tian Yi" (浑天仪). "Hun Tian Yi" was used to observe celestrial constelations. It was another name.


it's called 候風地動儀 (hou feng di dong yi , literally means "monitoring winder earth-move meter) , which can be seen in http://140.116.71.92...b/newpage12.htm

However, it can only indicate the direction (as far as 700 km) of earthquake, but can't predict or accruately point out an epicenter. Yes, it's a wonderful invention, esp it was invented in AD132 (eastern Han), but i just can't see how it influences chinese way to deal with this terrible disaster.

#15 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 18 June 2004 - 11:11 PM

Hey..Yau, that's a good link and info about the seismograph. Thanks for your contribution. :P
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"夫君子之行:靜以修身,儉以養德;非淡泊無以明志,非寧靜無以致遠。" - 諸葛亮

One should seek serenity to cultivate the body, thriftiness to cultivate the morals. If you are not simple and frugal, your ambition will not sparkle. If you are not calm and cool, you will not reach far. - Zhugeliang




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