Researchers Discover Adelaide Is At Risk Of ‘Devastating’ Earthquakes

Potential of magnitude 7.0 earthquakes

Article heading image for Researchers Discover Adelaide Is At Risk Of ‘Devastating’ Earthquakes

Geoscience Australia

Scientists who have been investigating signs of ancient earthquakes near Adelaide have discovered earthquakes with 6.0-7.0 magnitudes in the area could be likely.

The Adelaide region is one of Australia’s most seismically active areas, bestriding serval faults including the Willunga Fault approximately 40 kilometres south of Adelaide – the focus of the investigations.

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Geoscience Australia Earthquake Geologist Dr Dan Clark said while no earthquakes of this magnitude gave been recorded in recent history on the Willunga Fault, there is potential for one to occur.

“What we were looking for is evidence in the geological record of earthquakes approximately 6.5 to 7.2 magnitude in size,” he said.

“While no earthquakes of this magnitude have occurred on this fault in recorded history, previous work led by the University of Melbourne has uncovered evidence of multiple large earthquakes occurring on this fault during the past few hundred thousand years.

“We calculate that the 55-kilometre active length of this fault could potentially host an earthquake as large as magnitude 7.2,” he said.

An earthquake with a magnitude of such strength would release approximately 30 times more energy than the Christchurch earthquake in 2011.

As Adelaide is home to heritage building that would be more vulnerable to strong ground shaking from a large-sized earthquake like Christchurch, the research is aimed to help determine the effects one could have in Adelaide. 

“What we were trying to pin down is how often earthquakes have occurred on this fault in the past, how big they were, and what this could mean for the people of Adelaide today,” Dr Clark said.


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The findings of the study will be used to support updates of Geoscience Australia’s National Seismic Hazard Assessment.

Hit News Team

9 June 2022

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