Australian quakes 'linked to dormant volcanoes'

January 27th, 2003

Recent earthquakes in south eastern Australia have raised suspicions that the deep rumblings could be linked to dormant volcanoes, a seismologist said yesterday.

A quake measuring 2.7 on the Richter scale was recorded about 40 kilometres southeast of Mount Gambier in South Australia at 9pm (AEDT) on Sunday.

Canberra's Australian Seismic Centre director Kevin McCue said the jolt came from a disturbance about 40km below ground level.

It came just seven hours after Albury-Wodonga on the NSW/Victorian border was shaken by a quake of similar intensity and a week after Murrumbateman, 20km north of Canberra, was rattled by a quake which measured 3.1 on the Richter scale.

Mr McCue said about 10 small quakes had been detected in the south western region during the past year.

The Mt Gambier jolt was centred in a remote area with a shockwave extending about 10km, he said.

"If it happened under your house, there would be quite a big bang (but) it wouldn't do any damage," he said.

The region is home to Australia's youngest volcanoes, which are due to erupt every 5000 years or so - the same period they have remained dormant.

Mr McCue was not making any doomsday predictions, but said the quakes indicated that something was happening down deep and possibly involved movement where the earth's crust meets the molten mantel.

"It seems to be a special area for deep earthquakes," he said.

"It seems to be in relation with some very new volcanoes, about 5000 years old."



Back to Homepage