A decade of earthquakes in Australia

25 February 2010

The past ten years have seen many natural hazards impact the Australian continent, but the most frequent hazard in this country often goes unnoticed - earthquakes.

The federal agency responsible for monitoring seismic activity in Australia and surrounding regions has put together a comprehensive list of recorded earthquakes in Australia over the past decade.

From 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2009, nearly 3600 earthquakes were recorded on the Australian continent; equating to an average of one earthquake per day in Australia over this period.

Western Australia was by far the most seismically active State accounting for more earthquakes than all the other States and Territories combined. The largest event of the decade was a magnitude 5.4 event recorded near Mount Redvers in the Northern Territory. The area surrounding Korumburra, in east Victoria, was of particular interest to seismologists with a series of 13 earthquakes during March and April 2009 in what is known as an earthquake cluster. In the following month, over 200 aftershocks were recorded.

"Because Australia sits in the middle of the Indo-Australian tectonic plate, we are not prone to regular, large damaging earthquakes", said Clive Collins, a Senior Seismologist at Geoscience Australia. "However, within the last 100 years there have been 14 magnitude 6-7 earthquakes which have occurred on the Australian mainland".

"When you compare Australia to the other populated continents we are [statistically] the safest from damaging earthquakes", said Mr Collins. Worldwide, this decade was particularly high in damaging earthquakes with three events causing nearly half a million fatalities in Pakistan, China, and Indonesia.

To view the entire list including maps, ten largest earthquakes for each State, and additional earthquake statistics from the past decade, please view the decade of Australian earthquakes document [PDF 650KB].

Topic contact: media@ga.gov.au Last updated: October 4, 2013