Earthquake shakes South Australia

By AG Staff | February 2, 2017

Geoscience Australia has reported a 3.7-magnitude earthquake struck near Murray Bridge, South Australia last night.

SOME SOUTH AUSTRALIANS MAY have felt the Earth move last night, when a 3.7-magnitude earthquake struck near Murray Bridge, south-east of Adelaide just after midnight local time.

The minor quake was centred about 9km south-west of Murray Bridge, at a depth of about 8km, and could have been felt by people up to 46km away, Geoscience Australia reported.

People reported feeling the jolt on social media, while some lamented that they missed the event, and others were more tongue in cheek.

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While Australia is not renowned for earthquakes like our neighbours in New Zealand, relatively minor – and sometimes bigger – rumbles like the one felt in South Australia last night are perhaps more common than many people realise.

According to Geoscience Australia, our continent is rattled by about one small earthquake every day, with about 200 of magnitude 3.0 or larger every year, and one of magnitude 5.5 or larger about every two years.

South Australia recorded one of its biggest earthquakes in recent decades in 2012, when a 6.1-magnitude quake struck near Ernabella, in the state’s far north. While people reported strong shaking and there were several aftershocks, the quake caused minimal damage.

Mid-way through last year, the Western Australian town of Norseman felt three 5.0-magnitude earthquakes and a total of 50 minor quakes in a period of just two months. (Read more: ‘Australia’s shakiest town‘.)

However, the damage caused by earthquakes isn’t always directly related to their magnitude. In terms of cost and damage, Australia’s most destructive earthquake was a 5.6-magnitude quake that struck Newcastle, NSW, on 28 December 1989. It killed 13 people, hospitalised 160 and caused an estimated $4 billion of damage.

Using modernised measurement techniques, Geoscience Australia recently updated the magnitude scores of Australia’s historic earthquakes. Our strongest earthquake in history was a magnitude-6.6 quake that struck Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory in 1988. The damage was estimated at $2.5 million and aftershocks were felt for years, but there were no injuries reported.

The biggest recorded earthquake in history occured in Chile on 22 May 1960. The magnitude 9.5 quake killed 1655 people, injured 3000 and displaced two million. It cased US$550 million damage in Chile and led to a tsunami that caused death and destruction as dar away as Hawaii, Japan and the Phillipines.

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