Off-shore Quake Near Tasmania

Australia experienced one of its infrequent earthquakes yesterday, when a light quake struck off the western coast of Tasmania.

The earthquake, which struck at 6:23 a.m. on December 15th 2006 NZDT (4:23 a.m. local time), was located 310 km west of Hobart, Tasmania. The magnitude 4.4 event was 27 km deep.

Data published by the US Geological Survey show that the area has experienced about 9 earthquakes less than magnitude 5 since 1990, all of them at shallow depths. During 2006, two other events of magnitude 4 or less have occurred.

According to the Seismology Research Centre (SRC), which operates a network of 100 seismographs in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, yesterday’s earthquake was magnitude 5.0. The SRC website has detailed 29 earthquakes which occurred in Australian territories during 2006. Magnitudes ranged between 1.5 and 4.5 prior to yesterday’s event.

There is no indication that the earthquake was felt by residents of Tasmania, who are pre-occupied with bush fires on the island as well as mainland Australia.

It is ironic that the famous, but small, original cricket trophy that symbolises The Ashes cricket series between England and Australia is about to visit Tasmania at the height of the bush fire season. The trophy, believed to be a perfume bottle containing the ashes of one of the bails from an 1880s cricket match between the two countries, normally resides at Lord’s Cricket Ground. It is on a rare tour of several Australian cities before returning home to the U.K. early next year.

[Compiled from data supplied by the US Geological Survey and Australia’s Seismology Research Centre and their contributing agencies.]

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