Australian Earthquake Magnitude 5.8 Northern Territory, 6/8/2013

john's picture

On June 9 14:22:12 UTC (June 8 locally, and yesterday here in the US), a M5.8 earthquake occurred in the middle of the Australian continent near Mulga Park, NT.

Events of this size are not unknown in Australia, and in fact, even larger events have been recorded historically [1]. 

On 22 January 1988, the Tennant Creek (Northern Territory) earthquake series included earthquakes having magnitudes M6.7, M6.4 and M6.3.  Shaking from these events was felt in high rise buildings as far away as Perth and Adelaide.

Another large earthquake having M7.2 occurred in Meerberrie, WA on 29 April 1941.  Locally, intense damage was reported, and shaking but little damage was reported in Perth, 500 km away.  This event was the strongest earthquake recorded on the landmass of Australia.

In the oceans around Australia, in the Tasman Sea, and the Banda Sea, for example, large magnitude earthquakes are relatively common.

Probably the most destructive earthquake in Australia was the 28 December 1989 M5.6 event that occurred in the area of Newcastle, NSW.  Although the magnitude was relatively moderate, problems with building construction led to 13 fatalities, 160 persons hospitalized, with 300,000 persons affected.  50,000 residential structures were damaged, and 300 buildings had to be demolished.

To analyze the probability of this most recent event on June 8, I used the hazard viewer to select a circular region 200 km in radius around the epicenter of the Mulga Park event, as shown in the screenshot above. 

Clicking on the "Forecast Timerseries" bar in the hazard viewer led to the screenshot of the probability timeseries as shown below. 

For an M>5 earthquake, at the time the earthquake occurred, the probability for the next 1 year is seen to be about 6%.  However, over the next 3 years, we compute a probability of over 50% for such an event.

While not as seismically active as the ring of fire whose SW boundaries near Indonesia surround Australia to the North and East, significant and damaging earthquakes do occur in Australia, and appropriate precautions should be taken.

Source:  [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_earthquakes_in_Australia

Comments

umam12's picture
umam12's picture

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Amy J Gray's picture

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