Earthquake off Coral Bay in WA’s north was Australia’s second-largest in 20 years



December 17, 2018 11:17:56

A large swathe of Western Australia has been shaken by the second-largest earthquake to be felt in Australia in the past 20 years.

Hundreds of people reported their houses rattling and the ground wobbling after the magnitude-5.9 quake struck about 100 kilometres off the coast of Coral Bay, in the state’s north, at 10:26pm.

Tremors were felt from north of Port Hedland to south of Perth, more than 1,000km away.

Closer to the epicentre, Coral Bay residents Joe and Lisa Eveson said they were woken by what sounded like truck going through their bedroom.

“Everything was shaking and it was a bit surreal really, especially being woken out of a sleep,” Mr Eveson said.

“It was almost like when we had a cyclone and we had really strong winds,” Mrs Eveson added.

The quake was followed by a magnitude 3.7-aftershock off the coast of Carnarvon.

Warning of more aftershocks

Geoscience Australia seismologist Hugh Granville said additional tremors should be expected in the weeks to come.

“From a magnitude-5.9, you may expect up to magnitude-4 aftershocks, possibly even [magnitude] 5,” he said.

“I fully expect more aftershocks to continue on for days or weeks afterwards.

“I would expect a bunch of magnitude-3s.”

It is the largest earthquake in Australia since a magnitude-6 tremor in the Northern Territory’s Petermann Ranges in 2016. Prior to that, the next largest quake was recorded in 1997.

“This is very close to some of the largest earthquakes we’ve had in Australia,” Mr Granville said.

“This is up there very close to a magnitude-6, and, being felt for over 1,000km means it was quite substantial.

“You would expect a significant amount of damage from an earthquake of that size if it struck under a town or city, with a significant amount of shaking.”

No tsunami threat

Mr Granville said it was fortunate the tremor was so far offshore and there had been no reported damage, and it was small enough to avoid a tsunami.

He said that was despite it being significantly larger than an earthquake which hit near Lake Muir in the Great Southern in November.

That quake tore up paddocks in the region.

There have been 40 earthquakes within about 100km of Coral Bay in the last 20 years.

The Department of Parks and Wildlife said there had been no reports of damage to the Ningaloo Reef from the quake.







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