Research Reports - Earthquakes

Stochastic ground-motion prediction equations for south eastern Australian earthquakes using updated source and attenuation parameters

This report presents the stochastic finite-fault ground-motion prediction equations (GMPEs) developed for southeastern Australia for the 2012 National Earthquake Hazard Maps. The equations estimate the median horizontal component of the ground-motion produced by earthquakes in this area between moment magnitude 4.0 and 7.5 and out to a distance of 400 km.

The 2012 Australian Earthquake Hazard Map

This document provides the technical background to the new set of national earthquake hazard maps for Australia completed in 2012. This report describes the work done to produce the maps and shows some example maps for a range of return and spectral acceleration periods.

Future Directions for the National Earthquake Hazard Map for Australia

In 2009, Geoscience Australia initiated a new project to update the national earthquake hazard map. The map is a key component of Australia's earthquake loading code. Geoscience Australia hosted a workshop with Australian experts in seismic hazard assessment to scope out the short and long term direction of the earthquake hazard project and the national map. This report was developed from the input and advice received from that workshop.

Australia's seismogenic neotectonic record: a case for heterogeneous intraplate deformation

Australia's rich neotectonic record provides an opportunity to better understand the characteristics of seismogenic intraplate deformation, both at the scale of a single 'active' fault and at the scale of the entire continent. Over the last decade knowledge of Australian intraplate faults has advanced significantly. This report reviews this knowledge and proposes six preliminary seismicity source zones (domains) based upon neotectonic data. Each source zone contains 'active' faults that share common recurrence and behavioural characteristics. These data have the potential to significantly enhance our understanding of seismic hazard in Australia at a time scale more representative than the historical record of seismicity.

Development of the Australian National Regolith Site Classification Map

In implementing the recommendations from the Council of Australian Governments review into natural disaster management arrangements in Australia (Council of Australian Governments, 2004) Geoscience Australia initiated several projects contributing to a national program of systematic and rigorous disaster risk assessments. Geoscience Australia's Earthquake Risk Model (EQRM) (Robinson et al., 2005) is fundamental to these projects, and is underpinned by a number of key input datasets, including the National Regolith Site Classification Map. The map also represents a significant complementary dataset to the Australian National Earthquake Hazard Map, which is currently under revision.

Australian earthquake fault plane solutions

This Atlas of focal plane solutions of Australian earthquakes contains the focal mechanisms of all known Australian earthquakes (up to 2003) for which a mechanism has been determined. A total of 107 solutions are presented for 84 earthquakes in Australia and the surrounding region.

Potential geologic sources of seismic hazard in the Sydney Basin

This report is the outcome of a workshop at the University of Sydney which brought together a diverse range of researchers with experience in the geology and geomorphology of the Sydney Basin, neotectonics and seismic hazard science. This volume contains the tools for understanding large earthquake occurrence within the Sydney Basin. It represents a framework upon which future advances in our understanding of the seismic hazard posed to Australia's largest population centre may be based.

Drainage modification associated with the northern Lapstone Structural Complex, New South Wales, Australia

The Lapstone Structural Complex (LSC) is located within the Southeast Australian highlands, one of the most seismically active areas of Australia. A large earthquake associated with deformation on the LSC could be devastating to the Sydney area. However, the evolution of the LSC, in particular the timing of its development is not well understood. The aim of this study is to use stream profile analysis in order to better constrain the possible age of movement on structures associated with the LSC.

Community Reports

Natural Hazards in Australia Report

This report provides an overview of the rapid onset natural hazards which impact on Australian communities, including tropical cyclone, flood, severe storm, bushfire, landslide, earthquake and tsunami events. Emphasis is placed on identifying risk analysis requirements for these hazards and the phenomena that they cause, with a particular focus on likelihood and consequence.

Earthquakes in the Canberra Region

The Canberra region has experienced an average of one earthquake per year for the past 50 years; and for most residents this information would come as a surprise. The report contains a complete history of seismic activity in and around the nation's capital, using records that date back from as early as 1841. This updated version of the 1996 publication draws upon new seismic data from the past 11 years, in conjunction with felt reports from local residents. Included in the 32 page booklet is an earthquake action guide explaining what to do during and after an earthquake and possible warning signs.

Earthquake Risk in Newcastle and Lake Macquarie

This report provides details of investigations and research into the risks presented by earthquakes to the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie communities. The process of investigating the risk from earthquakes has led the team to recognise the risk to these same communities from a range of natural hazard phenomena.

Perth, Western Australia

In recent decades there has been significant earthquake activity in the south west seismic zone just east of Perth. Geoscience Australia monitors the seismic activity of this zone and, because it is located near Perth, it was considered vital to incorporate an earthquake hazard model into the Cities Project.

Southeast Queensland

In comparison to the time-scale of geological processes, the recorded history of earthquake activity in Queensland is too brief to obtain an accurate estimate of the true rate of earthquake activity in the area. According to Rynn (1987) the first earthquake report for Queensland was from Cape York Peninsula in 1866.


The Australian continent is distant from the narrow band of earthquake activity which delineates the boundary between the Australian and Pacific plates and passes through Papua New Guinea, the southwest Pacific countries and New Zealand. Mackay is situated more than 1 500km from this plate boundary. Even though the region is a significant distance from the plate boundary, strong earthquakes have occurred in Australia, and more will occur.


Given the limited instrumental coverage and low population densities of the region, many small and moderate earthquakes will almost certainly have gone undetected. Consequently the earthquake catalogues for northeast Queensland are incomplete.


The study area is on the northern margin of the Wide Bay-Burnett earthquake zone, which is the most active earthquake area in Queensland. The earthquake hazard for Gladstone, as read from a national map, is relatively high for an urban centre in Australia.

Andaman-Sumatra earthquake

Hundreds of aftershocks have followed the Andaman-Sumatra earthquake on 26 December 2004. The magnitude 9.0 earthquake occurred where the Indo-Australian plate is being subducted under the Eurasia Plate. This subduction zone stretches from Burma in the west to West Irian Jaya in the east.

AusGeo News Articles

June 2008 - Assessing natural disasters risk in the Asia-Pacific region

The Asia-Pacific region experiences some of the world's worst natural hazards-frequent earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, cyclones and annual monsoons. It also includes many of the world's megacities-those with more than 8 million people-so the number of people exposed to hazard risks in the region is very high.

March 2008 - Creating safer communities

March 2007 - On shaky ground? - Understanding earthquake ground-shaking in Australia

The devastating 1989 Newcastle earthquake, which resulted in the death of 13 people and caused more than A$800 million in insured losses, showed that Australian communities are not immune to the effects of earthquakes.

June 2006 - Estimating the influence of sediments on ground shaking

Many of Australia's major population centres are built on alluvial plains or coastal margins which are characterised by significant thicknesses of unconsolidated sediment.

December 2005 - Crustal deformation from the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake

The Global Positioning System (GPS) and a global network of receivers enable ground motion to be detected at the millimetre to centimetre level before, during and after earthquakes.

June 2005 - WA rocked in the old days

South and central west Western Australia experienced major earthquakes in prehistoric times.

Papers by Geoscience Australia Scientists for the Australian Earthquake Engineering Society (AEES)

N H (Doc) Fisher Geoscience Library

The N H (Doc) Fisher Geoscience Library at Geoscience Australia is the premier geoscience library in Australia. Established in 1946, the library, which is open to the public, has an extensive collection of earth sciences material.

External Research Links
Site Classification for Earthquake Hazard and Risk Assessment in AustraliaA. McPherson and L. Hall, 2013Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, vol. 103, no. 2A, pp. 1085-1102,
Long-term behaviour of Australian Stable Continental Region (SCR) faultsD. Clark, A. McPherson and R. Van Dissen, 2012Tectonophysics, vol. 566-67, pp. 1-30.
Intensity attenuation for active crustal regionsT.I. Allen, D.J. Wald and C.B Worden, 2012Journal of Seismology, 16, pp. 409-33.
Development of the next generation Australian National Earthquake Hazard Map' [ PDF 447KB]T.I. Allen, D.R Burbidge, D. Clark, A.A. McPherson, C.D.N Collins and M. Leonard, 2011Proceedings of the 9th Pacific Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Auckland, New Zealand.
Earthquake Fault Scaling: Self-Consistent Relating of Rupture Length, Width, Average Displacement, and Moment ReleaseM. Leonard, 2010Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, vol.100, pp. 1971-88.
Aeromagnetic mapping of Precambrian geological structures that controlled the 1968 Meckering earthquake (M (sub s) 6.8); implications for intraplate seismicity in Western AustraliaM. Dentith, D. Clark and W. Featherstone, 2009Tectonophysics, vol.475, 3-4, pp.544-53.
Constraints on the current rate of deformation and surface uplift of the Australian continent from a new seismic database and low-T thermochronological dataJ. Braun, D.R. Burbidge, F.N. Gesto, M. Sandiford, A.J.W. Gleadow, B.P. Kohn and P.R. Cummins, 2009Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, vol.56, no.2, pp.99-110.
Shallow intraplate earthquakes in Western Australia observed by interferometric synthetic aperture radarJ. Dawson, P. Cummins, P. Tregoning and M. Leonard, 2008Journal of Geophysical Research, vol.113, B11408.
One Hundred Years of Earthquake Recording in AustraliaM. Leonard, 2008Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, vol.98, no.3, 1458-70.
The Hyden fault scarp, Western Australia: paleoseismic evidence for repeated Quaternary displacement in an intracratonic settingD. Clark, M. Dentith, K.H. Wyrwoll, L. Yanchou, V. Dent and C. Featherstone, 2008Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, vol.55, pp.379-95.
Attenuation of ground-motion spectral amplitudes in southeastern AustraliaT.I. Allen, P.R. Cummins, T. Dhu and J.F. Schneider, 2007Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, vol.97, no.4, pp.1279-92, August.
Towards a better model of earthquake hazard in AustraliaM. Leonard, D. Robinson, T. Allen, J. Schneider, D. Clark, T. Dhu and D. Burbidge, 2007, in S. Stein and S. Mazzotti, (Editor)Continental Intraplate Earthquakes: Science, Hazard and Policy Issues: Geological Society of America Special Paper, pp.425.
Empirical attenuation of ground-motion spectral amplitudes in Southwestern Western AustraliaT.I. Allen, T. Dhu, P.R. Cummins and J.F. Schneider, 2006Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, vol.96, no.2, pp.572-85, April.
Practical probabilistic seismic risk analysis: A demonstration of capability [ PDF 656 KB]D. Robinson, T. Dhu and J. Schneider, 2006Seismological Research Letters, vol.77, no.4, pp.453-59.
SUA: A computer program to compute regolith site-response and estimate uncertainty for probabilistic seismic hazard analysesD. Robinson, T. Dhu and J. Schneider, 2006Computers and Geosciences, vol.32, pp.109-23.
GPS-geodetic deformation monitoring of the southwest seismic zone of Western Australia: epoch oneW.E. Featherstone, N.T. Penna, M. Leonard, D.J. Clark, J. Dawson, M.C. Dentith, D. Darby and R. McCarthy, 2004Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia, vol.87, pp.1-8.
Thin plate neotectonic models of the Australia plateD.R. Burbidge, 2004Journal of Geophysical Research, vol.109, B10405.
Australian Palaeoseismology: towards a better basis for seismic hazard estimationD. Clark and K. McCue, 2003Annals of Geophysics, vol.46, pp.1087-105.
Principal stress orientations from multiple focal plane solutions: new insight into the Australian intraplate stress fieldD.J. Clark and M. Leonard, 2003, in: R.R. Hillis and D. Muller, (Editors)Evolution and dynamics of the Australian Plate, Geological Society of Australia and Geological Society of America Joint Special Publication, pp.91-105, 22.

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