SOME of Australia’s most active faults are located in Gippsland’s Latrobe Valley and Strzelecki Ranges, which have the potential to host a very large earthquake. That’s according to the latest update to the National Seismic Hazard Assessment (NSHA) by Geoscience Australia.
Senior seismologist Dr Trevor Allen said although Australia is not usually associated with large, damaging earthquakes; on average, 100 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or larger are detected across the country each year.
“It’s impossible to accurately predict exactly when and where an earthquake will occur but the history of earthquake activity in a region can tell us a lot about its potential risk for future earthquakes,” Dr Allen said.
“The Gippsland region has relatively high rates of natural seismicity and we estimate a magnitude 5.0 earthquake in the region every 25 to 50 years.
“Fault sources in the Gippsland region contribute to earthquake ground shaking hazard with return periods of 500 years and longer.
“These are typical return periods used to guide the design levels for buildings and infrastructure.”
Outside of regional Australia, Canberra is the capital city with the highest estimated seismic
hazard, according to Dr Allen.
“There is always more to learn when it comes to earthquakes in Australia. Science and technology is constantly evolving and improving and the NSHA is updated regularly to ensure it incorporates best practice and evidence-based science.”
Dr Allen said the NSHA is an essential tool in areas with a higher seismic hazard to develop mitigation strategies that make at-risk communities more resilient.
But earthquakes can still occur in unanticipated locations where there might not be many historical observations, Dr Allen emphasised.
“Although we cannot predict the exact day, time and place of a large, damaging earthquake, we can apply best practice and evidence-based science to make sure communities are as prepared as possible.”