A review of damage intensity scales

Russell Blong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


A wide range of scales and indices are used to describe natural hazards and their impacts. Some scales infer damage levels from hazard characteristics while others use damage levels to estimate a physical characteristic. Damage scales may rely on raw dollar values, percent loss estimates, damage states, normalized values or macrodamage categories. Whatever the basis of the scale it should tell the truth. However, scales are compromises between the need for detailed information and being simple enough to use. Damage scales may be nominal (categorical), ordinal, interval or ratio scales. Frequency words such as "few", "many" can be dealt with in a range of ways to produce contiguous, widely separated, broadly overlapping or narrow overlapping values. Most scales rely on maximum values but some focus on minimum or threshold values. The number of levels on damage scales commonly ranges from five to 13. Some long-lived damage scales have evolved through several editions, changing to reflect the new or additional uses to which they have been put and as buildings and the nature of damage to those structures has changed. Few scales state precisely the purpose of the scale, deal clearly with ambiguities or provide guidelines for the use of qualitative information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-76
Number of pages20
JournalNatural Hazards
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2003


  • Building damage
  • Consequences
  • Damage
  • Damage scales
  • Estimation
  • Indices
  • Intensity
  • Natural hazards
  • Scales


Dive into the research topics of 'A review of damage intensity scales'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this