Biggest earthquake this year

16 July 2003

The largest earthquake detected anywhere in the world this year occurred early this morning in the Indian Ocean. Geoscience Australia detected the 7.6 magnitude earthquake in the Carlsberg Ridge region, about 1000km south-west of the Maldives, at 6.28am eastern Australian time.

"Earthquakes of this size have been known to cause tsunamis resulting in land based structural damage. In this case we have had no confirmation of a tsunami occurring as a result of the earthquake," Dr Cvetan Sinadinovski, duty seismologist at Geoscience Australia said.

This earthquake was 100 times the size of the 5.6 magnitude earthquake, which hit Newcastle in 1989.

"Had this earthquake happened on land, it could have caused structural damage to many buildings up to 180km from the epicentre," added Dr Sinadinovski. "Theoretically, residents living over 2000km from it's centre would have felt the event."

The Indian Ocean has been known to experience large earthquakes. The last time an earthquake of this size occurred in the same area was in November 1999.

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