Scientists investigate Victorian earthquake

21 June 2012

Map showing proposed deployment of temporary seismometers. Copyright Geoscience Australia 2012

Map showing proposed deployment
of temporary seismometers.
© Geoscience Australia

The most significant earthquake experienced in Victoria in 30 years is to come under examination from seismologists and natural hazard researchers as temporary seismometers are deployed in the area surrounding the epicentre.

The magnitude 5.4 earthquake occurred in the state's southeast at 8:53pm on 19 June 2012 16 kilometres southwest of the Gippsland township of Moe. There have been more than 170 aftershocks following the Moe event, the largest recorded at magnitude 3.5.

It is the largest earthquake in Victoria since November 1982 when an earthquake also measuring magnitude 5.4 occurred near the town of Wongungarra, 100 kilometres north of the event near Moe. In 1969 there was a magnitude 5.3 event centred on Boolarra, 15 kilometres southeast of the Moe event.

Using data captured by the temporary seismometers, seismologists will analyse aftershock data to further clarify the location of the main shock, and to help identify the active fault system which produced the earthquake. The data will also help to refine local ground motion models for predicting the amount of shaking produced by earthquakes in Victoria.

Post-analysis information will help to improve future assessments of the likely earthquake hazard in the area around Moe and Traralgon, and more broadly, the likely hazard in Victoria’s Gippsland region.

These earthquakes are called intra-plate, and occur due to the release of stress that has built up in the Earth's crust, caused by movement of the tectonic plates. The Australian continent is part of the Indian-Australian plate which is being pushed slowly northeast at approximately 8cm per year. South Australia is being slowly squeezed sideways by about 0.1mm each year.

Further information on the earthquake is available on Earthquakes @ Geoscience Australia.

Topic contact: Last updated: October 4, 2013