How big was that earthquake?

10 September 2003

Twenty temporary earthquake monitoring stations are being set up in the Flinders Ranges in an effort to improve estimates of seismic hazard in the region.

The work is being carried out by Geoscience Australia in collaboration with the Department of Primary Industries and Resources South Australia (PIRSA) and will provide local authorities with a better idea of the size and frequency of earthquakes which might occur in the region.

"Up to 200 earthquakes a year occur in the Flinders Ranges region, which is a relatively high rate for Australia. There are several geologically active faults in the region that are currently monitored by permanent seismic stations. However, the accuracy of information about the location of these earthquakes is not high enough to tell whether they are occurring along the known faults," said Geoscience Australia seismologist, Dr Phil Cummins.

"The main goal of the temporary seismometer stations is to increase the accuracy of earthquake information to ascertain whether the earthquakes are occurring on mapped or unmapped fault lines. This will improve estimates of seismic hazard in the region, so that local authorities have a better idea of the size and frequency of earthquakes which might occur.

"In addition to providing more accurate information about the location of active seismic faults, the data from the exercise will also help to better understand the character of ground vibrations generated by earthquakes in South Australia, and to understand how these vibrations travel through Earths crust. This information will be useful in establishing standards for building design that will minimise damage due to earthquakes, because it will help us understand what intensity of ground vibration could be expected as a result of earthquake activity, and to establish standards for building design which will avoid damage due to earthquakes," said Dr Cummins.

Seismologists David Love (PIRSA) and Dr Clive Collins (Geoscience Australia) and are in the Flinders Ranges this week setting up the temporary earthquake stations.

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