Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Australia recorded 579 earthquakes in 2013

Geoscience Australia has just published a media release about seismic activity on the continent in 2013. According to official records, Western Australia was the most seismically active state, experiencing 332 earthquakes, New South Wales recorded 94 events, South Australia 88 and Victoria 30. The small town of Ernabella (Pukatja) in South Australia has recorded the largest earthquake in the nation for two consecutive years, experiencing a 5.7 magnitude event in both 2012 and 2013.

GA explains that “Western Australia’s high level of seismic activity can be attributed to the occurrence of earthquake ‘swarms’ in its Wheatbelt region. Swarms are small earthquakes that occur multiple times per week or month in a confined geographic area with no associated foreshock or aftershock. While Australia seems to experience a high number of earthquakes per year, most of the earthquakes are under magnitude 4.0, which are considered small as they don’t usually cause damage.”

 “Australia’s earthquakes are caused by the Indo-Australian plate being pushed northeast about 7cm per year, colliding with the Eurasian, Philippine and Pacific plates. This movement causes the build-up of stress in the interior of the Australian plate, which is then released during earthquakes.”

Geoscience Australia monitors, analyses and reports on significant earthquakes to alert emergency managers in the Australian Government, State and Territory Governments and the public about earthquakes in Australia and overseas so that the appropriate level of emergency response and assistance can be dispatched. Geoscience Australia also operates the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre with the Bureau of Meteorology.

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