An earthquake shook Queensland on Monday. The 5.2-magnitude earthquake is the third largest in Queensland history.
It was 1:57 a.m. on Feb. 16 and the earthquake hit 25 kilometres from Eidsvold. Tremors were felt even in Rockhampton in the north and Brisbane in the south. The last time Queensland felt an earthquake stronger than magnitude 5 was in 1935. The other recorded earthquake in Queensland that went past magnitude 5 was in 1883. It was a 5.9-magnitude quake.
According to Geosciences Australia seismologist Andrea Thom, there are more than 800 reports that people have felt the quake. However, because of the remoteness of the epicentre, no major damage due to the earthquake was recorded. Thom called it a “fairly large earthquake,” according to Australian standards.
Thom said that the most of the reports were about people feeling the vibration and watching loose objects fall over. The earthquake was “quite noticeable” as there were loud noises as well. People in the hospital in Toowoomba were woken by the earthquake and, in Bundaberg, there were reports of power outages, she said.
Seismologist Hugh Glanville, on the other hand, said that the 1989 earthquake in Newcastle that killed 13 people was a magnitude 5.6. He added that the Eidsvold earthquake had fortunately occurred in a remote part of Queensland as the area was riddled with fault lines.
Glanville said that the earthquake could have been “very damaging” as it had a 15-kilometre radius. According to him, magnitude 5 earthquakes are generally damaging if the epicentre is below a city. He explained that the reason behind the earthquake was Australia’s tectonic plate moving slowly north.
"Australia is on one tectonic plate; that extends from New Zealand to Fiji, across to Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands and up to Papua New Guinea and Indonesia," Glanville said, "As it collides with the plate near Sumatra, stress builds up on our continent. The largest earthquake recorded in Australia occurred in April 1941. The 7.2-magnitude earthquake was at Meeberie in Western Australia.
According to Glanville, Australia does not expect an earthquake larger than a magnitude 7 even though 6-magnitude earthquakes can occur anywhere in the country. He has also said that Australia is unlikely to have a magnitude 8 or 9.
Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@IBTimes.com.au