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South Australia’s shaky history revealed

More than 175 years of historical data about earthquake and seismic monitoring in South Australia has been made publicly available by Geoscience Australia and the Geological Survey of South Australia.

Geoscience Australia seismologist Hugh Glanville said the data provides interesting insights into the history of earthquakes in South Australia.

“During our review of the data and historical documents given to us by the Geological Survey of South Australia, we came across recordings for many significant earthquakes in the state- some dating back as far as 1840.” Mr Glanville said.

“For example, the largest and most intense earthquake documented in South Australia was a magnitude 6.5 in 1897 near Beachport. The second largest and intense earthquake occurred just five years later in 1902 close to Warooka. It was a magnitude 6 earthquake.

“The earliest reported earthquake we found in the records happened in Adelaide on 31 March 1840 at 4:00pm, no magnitude was listed but it says: ‘a shock of [the] earthquake was felt in the town and for several miles around; no damage reported’.”

Mr Glanville said the public availability of the data was the result of a month-long methodical review by a small team at Geoscience Australia, and lifetime’s work in earthquake and seismic monitoring by South Australian seismologists.

“Access to carefully recorded and catalogued data, like what we now have for South Australia, is an invaluable resource for both earthquake, and earthquake hazard researchers.”