Thousands of residents of Western Australia’s (WA) southern side were awoken yesterday morning after a 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck the region, according to ABC News. The quake struck a town called Kojonup, and the tremors were felt as far as Albany, 155km south.
Residents discuss the startling experience
According to 9 News, Many residents have taken to social media to discuss their experience, with one man stating, “Was sitting at my office desk at 5.06 and the chair and house started moving.” whilst another woman compared the sound to a “freight train.”
Despite these reactions WA is no stranger to earthquakes, one with a 5.7 magnitude hit only 2 months ago in September in the same region. It occurred between Kojonup and Walpole but was felt as far away as Perth, roughly 330km.
One resident described the effects of the quake to media sources “It really felt like a bomb went off under your feet. It just kept on echoing through the ground for nearly 40 seconds, maybe up to a minute.”
An “uncommonly large” quake
As discussed by Senior Geoscience Australia seismologist Phil Cummins an earthquake of this magnitude would cause considerable damage in a built-up area or major city but due to the epicentre being in a remote area this was not the case.
He said, “It is quite a large earthquake, it is large enough to cause damage but it’s unlikely to have done so because it occurred in a relatively remote area.” He also described the magnitude as ‘uncommonly large’ stating that Australia should expect one of that size every few years instead of every few months.
Why does Western Australia have so many earthquakes?
These events have prompted discussions on why WA gets some of Australia’s largest tremors – the largest was a 6.5 magnitude earthquake in 1968 that injured 20 residents and left many homeless. But why does WA have these tremors when it lies in the middle of a tectonic plate and not on a fault line?
According to ABC News, Geoscience Australia said no part of the Earth’s surface is free from earthquakes. However, more will occur when situated along a fault line. Speaking of the recent earthquakes, Geoscience Australia has added “Shallow intraplate quakes occur in the relatively stable interior of continents away from plate boundaries,” which could provide some answer to the high levels of seismic activity occurring in WA.
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