The Worst Australian Earthquakes in Modern TimesApril 30, 2015

“It was dead quiet and then when everything happened it was so loud, so, so loud.”

- Kerri Ingram (recalling the 1989 Newcastle earthquake)

Some may be curious about the possibility of a big earthquake in Australia, and there's a long list of tremors that struck the country since the colonial days. We don't have to be anxious about the Big One. In fact, the continent is not along the Ring of Fire. It won't bring relief to the residents in the northern parts, as they still have to contend with weather disturbances. Unlike our Kiwi neighbours, who have frequent experiences with earthquakes, we have something to be grateful for. But we can't tell.

The long list of past earthquakes revealed some interesting things about Australia. Let's take a look:

The first account of the earthquake took place in Parramatta. On May 7, 1804, tremor was felt in Parramatta, a major district in Sydney. It was between 9 and 10 in the evening, but no one could tell the magnitude. It wasn't due to the panicking of Sydneysiders, but rather the lack of equipment. There have been past tremors, but there were hardly any inhabitants in the seaside areas during the past centuries.

Most quakes hit the coastal areas. The seaside is close to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand, all prone to quakes. (The inhabitants of Newcastle would agree to it.) If you want to avoid the tremor, then go inland. You'll miss the sea, though.

The largest quake struck Macquarie Island. An 8.1 earthquake shook Macquarie Island on December 23, 2004. There was little damage. (Macquarie, which is closer to Tasmania, is the home of the royal penguins.) The shock is stronger than the recent tremor that hit Nepal.

The coastal regions can be prone to a strong quake. Imagine the constant movement of the tectonic plates. It will affect the nearby parts, which have no history of strong quakes. Western Australia is not spared, as it's facing the Indian Ocean. (Who can't forget the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami of 2004?) This leaves the Outback.

The last quake happened in Queensland. The Bundaberg region experienced the shock a few months ago, but it was a mild one.

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