Large earthquake felt in Darwin

21 November 2005

A magnitude 5.3 earthquake occurred in the Banda Sea at 9.51am Central Standard Time today.

"The earthquake occurred 500km WNW of Darwin, a region known for its moderate seismicity," said Dr Cvetan Sinadinovski, Geoscience Australia's Duty Seismologist.

"People would have felt this earthquake up to 500km away from the epicentre, and we have heard numerous reports of residents in the Darwin area having felt the effects of this event."

"Preliminary reports point to an intensity of 5 to 6 in the Darwin region - this means that the earthquake would have been felt by almost everyone indoors according to the Modified Mercali Scale which measures the impact of seismic waves on structures," said Dr Sinadinovski.

"Previously, the biggest earthquake in that epicentral region had a magnitude of 6.9 and that was in 1998. This event is an inter-plate earthquake which occurs when the Australian and Asian plates collide. This is a dynamic process which is a result of the movement of the tectonic plates which form the Earth's crust."

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