Bushwhacked: More reasons to be thankful

It’s not difficult to understand why people from other disaster-wracked parts of the world see the idea of coming to Australia as quite attractive, despite the stories of giant spiders, snakes, sharks, Ivan Milat and a jillion other things that go nip in the night.

But this week provided more evidence that Terra Australis holds little Terror in reality.

For reasons that now fade from memory, I’m a fan of the Geoscience Australia website which records all the details of every earthquake in our part of the planet.

There has been an earthquake “swarm” in south-western Western Australia in the past week or so, with at least six quakes forming a rough circle about 100 kilometres across.

Wooo, you might think. Spooky. What’s going on? Well, not very much at all.

They have been around two to 2.5 in magnitude and happened in relatively unpopulated places. It might have put a kangaroo off its stride for a moment or so.

Earlier this week there was a “significant” earthquake just off the Main North Road going out of Gladstone in South Australia. It was a 2.0 and at a depth of 10 kilometres underground, so I don’t know why it was classified as significant.

Late last week there was a 3.4 quake a few kilometres off Tasmania’s west coast, near Strahan. It would have joggled a jellyfish.

In recent months there have been delicate tremors here and there, including a 2.2 at Mount Buller on August 10, and at least three tiddlers near Mansfield so far this year. 

Compare this with what happened in California this week. A 6.0 hit the Napa Valley on Sunday, the biggest earthquake there in 25 years, and – apart from the international trauma of seeing thousands of litres of Napa Valley wine sloshing around on supermarket floors – guess what the biggest topic of conversation was?

Is this the lead-up to The Big One?

Sunday’s quake caused an estimated $1 billion worth of damage, but it’s expected to be nothing compared with the cost of The Big One, when the San Andreas Fault and its associated cracks finally release their pent-up fury on California. The fault has a track record of letting loose once every 150 years or so, and that time frame elapsed in 2001.

Reading some of the technical discussions from California in the past few days, I wonder why anyone lives there, let alone a population of almost twice Australia’s.

Los Angeles has 3.8 million living above the fault zone and San Francisco adds a million more. Some estimates say The Big One will kill tens of thousands and cause $250 billion worth of damage.

Yet people cheerily chose to live there?

The US equivalent of our Geoscience website records about 40 quakes in California…. in the past week.

Our website says Bendigo has had: 0 quakes in the past day, 0 in the past week, 0 in the past month and 0 in the past year.

The only ones I could find records of in our region in the past 14 years were:  3.0 near Boort on December 22 last year,  2.8 near Ararat on March 30 last year,  3.0 near Echuca on February  21, last year, 2.7 near Bendigo October 2, 1012, 2.2 near Maldon, October 25, 2010, 2.2 near Bendigo August 29, 2010, 2.9 near Bendigo,  April 25, 2010, 3.3 near Rochester, January 22, 2002, 2.2 near Inglewood, October 20, 2001, 2.1 near Castlemaine, June 23, 2001, and 3.0 near Bendigo, May 2, 2001.

So, as we say so often in this space: Geez, it’s good here. I’d shake on that. 


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