Quake monitoring

Earthquake monitoring is improving in the Strzelecki Ranges following the unexpected and damaging 5.4 magnitude earthquake in Moe in 2012.

The University of Melbourne Australian Geophysical Observing System is investigating more accurately locating seismic events, particularly near recognised geological faults in west Gippsland.

The research program will place monitoring equipment down a series of five shallow monitoring bores located adjacent to geological faults crossing the Strzelecki Ranges between Moe and Korrumburra.

The highly sensitive earthquake seismometers are capable of detecting the faintest of earthquake signals and delivering precise location and visualisation information.

“This will enable the team to better understand local, as well as regional, stress and failure in the earth’s crust, providing a clearer picture of the potential earthquake hazard for the Gippsland region,” University of Melbourne Associate Professor Tim Rawling said.

He said there was unfortunately a prevalent view of low risk around earthquakes in the country.

“This is a public and institutional perception, which may in future cause harm to communities built around seismically active areas,” Associate Professor Rawling said.

“This is one of the main drivers for us seeking an improved understanding of Australia’s crustal stability.”

Moe Traders Association president, Christine Waterhouse was taking an exam at GippsTAFE in Morwell when the earthquake struck, and said the building started shaking and a roof tile came in.

Upon returning to her Moe furniture business, she discovered between $8000 to $10,000 in structural damage and broken giftware that had vibrated off tables.

The front window was cracked and ceiling tiles had fallen into the shop.

Ms Waterhouse said the research was a step in the right direction.

“If people had noticed, we may have been able to take giftware off the table. It could have prevented a lot of breakage if we had known it would happen,” she said.

The Subsurface Observatory group of AGOS already has an extensive array of surface monitors integrating with instruments from the Seismometer in Schools Program in Gippsland and across Victoria.

The group is now working to enhance this network with a number of underground instruments that are expected to improve sensitivity in earthquake monitoring.