Karuah receives earthquake wake up call

Geoscience Australia map showing earthquake activity in the vicinity over the last decade: Karuah’s recent event (circled), two offshore from Port Stephens (arrows) and several just south of Cessnock, near an identified ‘neotectonic feature’ (red lines).

KARUAH experienced a minor earthquake, measuring roughly 2.5 on the Richter Scale, on Sunday 3 March at 1:21pm.

Geoscience Australia (GA), the Federal Government’s pre-eminent geoscience organisation, has identified the epicentre amongst the mangroves just north of town.

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No property damage has been reported, and only a few individuals directly reported feeling windows rattling in Karuah, Medowie and The Branch, as well as domesticated dogs becoming agitated.

There is anecdotal evidence that dogs are capable of detecting the ultra-low frequency kinetic waves that can precede and accompany a seismic event.

Myall Way Emergency Planning Group leader Joanne Pearce told NOTA that the relatively low intensity of the Karuah quake should be taken as a clear reminder of the need to prepare for more destructive events.

“Earthquakes are not too common, but also not impossible, and preparations and actions you can take for bushfires can also be useful in earthquakes,” Joanne told NOTA.

“Having a network of communications in the community, being prepared for your access road being cut off, having food stores in case you cannot get to a shop for a few days, and preparations for electricity blackouts.

“Earthquakes can affect other locations, so the emergency services focus may be on other, bigger towns first.”

Several residents of the Myall Coast would remember the 1989 Newcastle earthquake, which wrought significant damage due mainly to the fact that few people ever expected it could happen.

As the GA information clearly shows, earthquakes are not necessarily isolated to the edge of tectonic plates.

“If you do proper emergency preparation, you only need small adaptations to be prepared for all emergencies – the main preparation can help in all emergencies, something we can all consider,” Ms Pearce added.

The last nearby quake was actually in January, its epicentre underwater off the coast of Port Stephens.

GA’s meticulous records of seismic activity around the country show that, within the last ten years, there have been three other offshore earthquakes near Port Stephens, one near Seal Rocks, and multiple onshore quakes surrounding an identified ‘neotectonic feature’ south of Cessnock.

By Thomas O’KEEFE

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