Magnitude 4.8 earthquake near Wagin, Western Australia

25 January 2022

UPDATED 10am AWST on Thursday 27 January

Geoscience Australia’s National Earthquake Alerts Centre (NEAC) recorded an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.8 at  5.24am AWST approximately 25 kilometres west of Wagin and 30 kilometres east of Darkan, Western Australia on Tuesday 25 January.

In line with standard scientific procedures our semiologists have reviewed all the available data and updated information surrounding this event as required.

We can now confirm that this event registered a magnitude of 4.8 with and epicentre near Arthur River.

It is not uncommon for the size and location of earthquakes to be adjusted once all data and available information is reviewed by seismologists.

As of 10am AWST on Thursday 27 January, more than 1038 felt reports have been submitted to the Earthquakes@GA website.

Geoscience Australia is grateful to the community for responding in this way and adding to our data and understanding of this event. These community responses provide critical real-time intelligence for emergency services on the impacts and extent of the felt effects from earthquakes and are subsequently used by Geoscience Australia’s scientists to improve our understanding of earthquakes in Australia.

Twenty-six earthquakes with magnitudes ranging between 2.2 and 3.6 have since been recorded in the Wagin and Darkan region, near Arthur River, since the magnitude 4.8 event.

The NEAC has detected nearly 90 earthquakes in this region this year, with magnitudes ranging between 2.1 to 4.8.

This phenomenon is what’s referred to as an “earthquake swarm” where a series of moderate-sized "mainshocks" occur in a small area. Each of these so-called mainshocks may have their own aftershock sequence.

In the last five years there have been almost 1200 earthquakes recorded within 200 kilometres of this earthquake. The largest earthquake recorded in this region in the past five years was a magnitude 5.3 at Lake Muir in September, 2018. A magnitude 4.8 earthquake also occurred south of Katanning in October 2007.

General information about earthquakes in Australia

On average, around 100 earthquakes of magnitude 3 or larger are recorded in Australia each year.

Earthquakes above magnitude 5.0, such as the destructive 5.4 magnitude earthquake in Newcastle in 1989, occur around every one to two years.

Approximately every 10 years, Australia experiences a potentially damaging earthquake of magnitude 6.0 or larger such as the Meckering earthquake in October 1968.Compared to countries near tectonic plate boundaries, Australia experiences fewer large earthquakes.

Earthquakes in Australia are caused by the slow build-up of stress in the interior of the continent, produced by the Australian tectonic plate moving approximately 7 centimetres to the northeast every year and colliding with adjacent tectonic plates.

The Australian plate is the fastest moving continental land mass on Earth, colliding into the Pacific plate to Australia's north and east, and the Eurasian Plate to the northwest.

An earthquake occurs when rocks deep underground break and move along a fault line, releasing this stress.

While some parts of the country are more likely to experience earthquakes than others, large earthquakes can occur anywhere across the continent, and without warning.

In the case of an earthquake, drop onto your hands and knees and crawl under a sturdy table or next to an interior wall, cover your head and neck, and hold on until the shaking stops.

Geoscience Australia’s NEAC uses a permanent network of more than 100 seismic monitoring stations across the country to detect and respond to Australian earthquakes 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.

NEAC also alerts the Australian Government to overseas earthquakes above magnitude 6.0 by drawing on additional real-time seismic data from more than 500 overseas seismometers, operated by various international observatories.

Geoscience Australia also operates the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre (JATWC) with the Bureau of Meteorology. This centre detects, monitors and warns of possible tsunami threats to the Australian coast and offshore territories from large earthquakes 24/7, drawing on a network of hundreds of stations across the globe.

If you felt this earthquake, please lodge a felt report online via the Earthquakes@GA website. Your information helps us to understand, and model, the local impacts of Australian earthquakes.