Western Australia is home to one of the biggest fault lines in the world, starting in Albany and stretching 1000km to the north. The Darling Fault is one of the longest and most significant fault lines on Earth, formed when India and Australia broke apart millions of years ago.
While a significant earthquake is yet to occur specifically on the Darling Fault, the lengthy crack sits just to the east of the South West Seismic Zone – the region with most of Australia’s earthquake activity.
In the past two decades, the zone has recorded 41 significant quakes and residents living in the region are regularly woken by tremors and shakes.
It’s been more than 50 years since Western Australia was hit with one of its biggest earthquakes in history when a magnitude 6.5 quake ripped through the town of Meckering, 130km east of Perth.
It was on October 14, 1968 that the massive earthquake shook the southern half of Western Australia, razing the town’s buildings, sending horses bolting and rattling the inside of homes more than 700km away.
Even the devastating Meckering quake didn’t top the Meeberrie quake in 1941 which hit 7.2 on the Richter scale.
But the 1941 quake, 500km from Perth, had little impact on people due to its distance from the coast and civilisation.
But now! If I were living in Perth and along this giant fault line… I would really get ready for the next Big One and pack at least one emergency survival kit for you and your family…
Mr Glanville said while the Darling Fault was not located in the state’s most common earthquake region, there was still potential for a quake there.
“The Darling Fault near Perth is quite a large fault so it could host a very large earthquake,” he said.
“Swallowing Perth would be a bit of artistic licence, but a quake there could cause significant damage – similar to the Meckering earthquake that flattened half the town.
“But Australia has had very few earthquakes of that size recorded in modern history. They’re quite rare occurrences. It would more likely be a small to medium earthquake that would shake buildings, so it’s not impossible but I would say unlikely.”
In 2009, UWA geophysics professor Michael Dentith told PerthNow scientists were still trying to figure out why there hadn’t been a significant quake on the Darling Fault.
“It’s one of the intriguing things about WA geology. We know there is this huge stress because (earthquakes) are occurring inland, but why are they not occurring on the biggest fault?”
But earthquakes don’t just come with a risk of damage to people and property – there’s also the flow-on risk of tsunamis.
Research from Geoscience Australia has already shown the threat of tsunamis is one Australia should be taking very seriously, even more if the coral barrier disappears…
According to the Probabilistic Tsunami Hazard Assessment (PTHA), the northwest coast of Western Australia is particularly at risk, because of proximity to Indonesia’s active and turbulent earthquake zone – making it far more likely to be struck than the rest of the country.
Although the possibility of a tsunami hitting the WA coast remains low, there have been more than 50 recorded tsunami incidents in Australia since European settlement with the largest impacts in that region. [QT]
If I were living in Perth and along this giant fault line… I would really get ready for the next Big One and pack at least one emergency survival kit for you and your family…
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