Largest earthquake in Kalgoorlie on record

20 April 2010

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake occurred ten kilometres south-west of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, at 8:17am local time today.

"People have reported feeling this earthquake up to 200km away from the epicentre, and we have had reports of building damage within a 10km radius," said Senior Seismologist Dr David Jepsen.

"For an earthquake of this size we would expect the region to experience some aftershocks of a lesser magnitude," he said.

"This is the largest earthquake ever recorded in the Kalgoorlie-Coolgardie region. The previous largest was a magnitude 4.5 recorded in 1987," said Dr Jepsen.

"On average, Australia has earthquakes this size or larger every year and they can occur anywhere in Australia. The largest earthquake in Australia is estimated at a magnitude of 7.2 in 1941 in Meeberrie, WA.," he said.

This type of event, called an intraplate earthquake, occurs due to the build up of stress in the Earth's crust, caused by the movement of the tectonic plates (where the Australian continent is part of the Indian-Australian plate which is being pushed slowly north-east at approximately seven centimetres per year) and its own gravitational load. This is part of the Earth's natural dynamic processes.

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