How earthquake was BIGGER than the deadliest shake in Australian history – the tragic Newcastle quake which killed 13 people and injured 160 others
- Magnitude 5.7-6.0 quake rocked Melbourne and demolished parts of buildings
- Chapel Street, Yarra, saw the most damage but there were no injuries
- Epicentre was 10km deep near Woods Point in Victoria’s north-east at 9.15am
- The Newcastle earthquake in 1989 killed 13 and injured 160 but was only 5.6
Victoria is lucky to have escaped catastrophe as the earthquake that rocked the state on Wednesday was bigger than the deadly Newcastle quake which killed 13 people and injured 160 others.
Seismologist Dr Gary Gibson told Daily Mail Australia the 5.8 quake was not as deadly as the 5.6 shake in Newcastle in 1989 because it struck a long way from densely populated areas.
Dr Gibson said Victoria’s earthquake was centred between Licola and the town of Woods Point, around 250km east of Chapel Street Melbourne – where the most significant damage happened.
He said ground buildings on Chapel Street could have caused loss of life had the popular cafe strip been busy.
Pictures have emerged of a Betty’s Burgers restaurant partially collapsed on Chapel St in Melbourne’s inner-city after a magnitude 5.8 earthquake on Wednesday
Rubble is pictured outside the Betty’s Burgers on Chapel Street after the building was damaged by Wednesday’s earthquake
The devastating 1989 Newcastle earthquake killed 13 people including nine in the Newcastle Workers’ Club, which is pictured above
‘The Newcastle quake was 12km deep, 20km from the city and the fault ran in the right direction to focus a very strong motion towards the city,’ Dr Gibson, from the University of Melbourne, said.
The NSW town was also badly affected because of construction on ‘soft sediments instead of hard rock, which amplified the motion of the quake’.
‘This latest quake was in the most remote area of Eastern Highlands of Victoria.’
Workers are pictured examining debris from a damaged building along Chapel Street in Melbourne on Wednesday
The 1989 Newcastle earthquake measured a magnitude 5.6 but was so deadly because it was close to the city and the fault ran straight to the city, where buildings were constructed on soft sediment
The Newcastle quake was Australia’s deadliest
Melbourne’s earthquake was felt as far as New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania.
The quake hit at 9.15am hundreds of kilometres north-east of Melbourne. It was believed to be 10km deep.
It was followed by two 4.0 and 3.1 magnitude aftershocks 18 and 39 minutes later – both within 10km of the original tremors.
Dr Gibson said the quake, at 10km deep, was ‘quite shallow’ and capable of causing a lot of damage at its epicentre.
Given the unexpected damage done on Melbourne’s iconic Chapel Street, Mr Gibson believes it is lucky no loss of life occurred.
‘Considering the damage done there if people had been there at the wrong time things could have been very serious,’ he said.
It is possible, he said, Chapel Street was so badly damaged because like Newcastle, buildings there are also constructed on soft sediment.
Dr Gibson believes there is still a very small chance more aftershocks ‘of the same magnitude’ could hit again.
He said it was the largest quake to ever hit Victoria or New South Wales and one of the biggest to ever hit Australia’s mainland.
A building also appeared to have been damaged by the earthquake on Wattle Street in Melbourne’s inner-city Prahran
Several larger quakes hit offshore in the 1880s, with a magnitude 7.0 recorded off Flinders Island.
Australia’s largest recorded earthquake was in 1988 at Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, with an estimated magnitude of 6.6, according to Geoscience Australia.
It happened in a sparsely populated area and resulted in damage to a gas pipeline.