Are the Flinders Ranges moving?

02 May 2003

A five-year Federal Government survey which will provide information to assess the risk of earthquakes in Adelaide and the Flinders Ranges was launched today by the Federal Member for the South Australian electorate of Mayo and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer.

As part of the survey, scientists from Geoscience Australia will be using satellite technology to measure barely detectable rock movement in the Flinders Ranges. This information will help to improve earthquake risk assessment for the Flinders Ranges and Adelaide, which has the highest earthquake risk of all Australian capital cities.

"There have been more moderate-sized earthquakes near Adelaide over the last 50 years than anywhere else in Australia," said Mr Downer. "And as we discovered with the 5.6 earthquake that occurred in Newcastle more than 13 years ago, even earthquakes of a moderate size have the potential to cause significant damage to people and property."

"This collaborative project will enable scientists to measure how much the rocks in the Mt Lofty and Flinders Ranges area are moving today. This movement is so small that we need to use satellite technology to detect it," said Mr Downer.

"Using the Global Positioning System, scientists will place some 48 GPS units at points across the Flinders Ranges, Mount Lofty Ranges and the eastern Eyre Peninsula. By returning to these points and re-locating them using GPS every few years, they will be able to detect any slight movement that has happened over that period, even if it is only a millimetre.

"Scientists will combine information from this project with information from previous earthquakes in the area to improve our assessment of the risk of earthquakes in the Mt Lofty and Flinders Ranges.

"This inaugural survey is of great value and importance to the Adelaide region," said Mr Downer. "It is an essential part of Geoscience Australia's role in hazard assessment and earthquake monitoring across the country."

The project is a collaborative effort between Geoscience Australia, Primary Industries and Resources South Australia (PIRSA), the South Australian Department of Administrative and Information Services (DAIS), the Australian National University (ANU), and the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences (IGNS).

Topic contact: Last updated: October 4, 2013