16 August 2000 00/350
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Risk assessment helps Newcastle prepare for future earthquakes
Reports that the 1989 Newcastle earthquake was caused by a fault recently identified off the coast from Newcastle may be premature, said Warren Entsch, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources.
Mr Entsch was commenting on a recent study by the Queensland University of Technology identifying a 40 kilometre geological fault off the shore of Newcastle as the cause of the 1989 earthquake.
"Knowing the location of geological faults is essential to developing risk management strategies, and I commend the research that has gone into this study. It is an important find," Mr Entsch said.
"It's too early, however, to say this fault definitely caused the 1989 Newcastle earthquake, or that another earthquake on this fault, or any other fault in the region, may cause significant damage again.
"While natural hazards, particularly earthquakes, are unavoidable and can't always be predicted, it certainly doesn't help anyone by being overly alarmist.
"However with appropriate planning by a community that is aware of the risks and knows what precautions to take, the risk of personal injury and damage can be reduced.
"Geoscience Australia has been conducting earthquake risk studies in this area for over 10 years, assisting the Newcastle City Council prepare for another event.
"The important message here is that the people of Newcastle are using the latest scientific knowledge and state of the art risk assessment techniques to prepare for future hazards, including possible earthquakes," Mr Entsch said.
"Geoscience Australia's current work in this region is broad ranging and includes a multi-hazard risk assessment program and earthquake monitoring to assist local planners develop risk management strategies in preparation for future natural hazard events."
Part of this work is identifying vulnerable ground conditions that may contribute to higher earthquake damage.
Geoscience Australia is also working to assess the probability of future damaging earthquakes in the Hunter Valley region, including their potential impact on the community.
Geoscience Australia's work in Newcastle is being conducted in partnership with the NSW State Government, the Newcastle City Council, the Lake Macquarie City Council, the University of Newcastle and a range of industry representatives including the Insurance Council of Australia.
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