Largest earthquake in 28 years hits Norseman

Large earthquake rocks Norseman

A magnitude 5.6 earthquake struck near Norseman with tremors felt in Esperance and as far away as Perth.

The quake, recorded at 5.40pm on Friday, July 8, struck 16 kilometres underground near Norseman in the Goldfields, according to Geoscience Australia.

The quake was the largest in Western Australia since a 5.7 magnitude event recorded near Derby in 1988.

Initially the tremor was reported to have a magnitude of 5.5.

According to Geoscience Australia (GA) senior seismologist Jonathan Bathgate, a team of seismic analysts had revised the magnitude at 5.6.

 No damage was reported which Mr Bathgate said was due to the distance of the quake from Norseman .

“At the moment they are of the order of 50 plus kilometres from Norseman, which is why they aren’t causing damage,” Mr Bathgate said.

“They are shallow and as we know from the Kalgoorlie earthquake in 2010 and Newcastle Earthquake in 1989, earthquakes of magnitude five and above can be very damaging.”

Mr Bathgate said there had been 20 aftershocks recorded since Friday and 38 since the initial 5.2 magnitude quake on May 28.  

Mr Bathgate said even though the earthquake was larger than the May 28 event, it was still considered an aftershock. 

“Generally they would get smaller and less frequent, but you can still get large earthquakes in amongst that,” Mr Bathgate said.

“They are completely unpredictable, there are some events of this size where we get very little activity, we have some events of this size where aftershocks continue on for months and months if not years.”

GA duty seismologist Andrea Thom said there were over 300 felt reports from Norseman, Kambalda, Esperance, Albany and Perth.

She said the reports from Perth were mainly from people in high rise buildings.

Esperance resident Naomi Christensen said she had just got out of the shower when the earthquake occurred and everything was moving and rattling.

“I thought that the two in mirrors in my bathroom were going to come off the wall and smash on the tiles, so I had to race out of there with a towel on,” Ms Christensen said. 

Ms Christensen said it was clear this quake was larger than the last one.

“With the other ones I was in bed and I could feel my bed shaking, but with this one my feet were on the floor so it was more of an undulating movement which was really unnerving,” Ms Christensen said.

Ms Christensen said her dad had experienced the effect of the quake nearly 800km from Norseman.

“What was weird about this one I rang my dad who was in Pinjarra and he had a spirit level in the kitchen which fell fell off the wall.”


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