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Beachport, 10 May 1897

Magnitude 6.5

The earthquake at Beachport is the largest to have occurred in South Australia since 1837. It caused massive damage in the South East at Kingston, Robe and Beachport, and caused minor damage even in Adelaide. It was felt as far away as Port Augusta and Melbourne. Near the epicentre there were several cases of liquefaction, some spectacular. It is thought that the epicentre was offshore. No tsunami was reported, but aftershocks continued for months.
Slumping near Lake Battye.
Slumping near Lake Battye.
Slumping near Robe.
Slumping near Robe.
Slumping near Robe.
Slumping near Robe.
Damage to the Beachport Post Office.
Damage to the Beachport Post Office.

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Warooka, 19 September 1902

Magnitude 6.0

The Warooka earthquake caused severe damage on Yorke Peninsula particularly at Warooka, but also at Yankalilla and other nearby places. There was widespread but not great damage around Adelaide.

It was originally thought that the epicentre was at Warooka, but more recent work suggests that it was in St Vincent Gulf.

There was no tsunami or liquefaction reported, but this event did cause at least two deaths, the first known deaths from an earthquake in Australia. There were a number of aftershocks.

Building damage at Warooka.
Building damage at Warooka.
Building damage at Warooka.

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Adelaide, 1 March 1954

Magnitude 5.5

This is the most infamous earthquake in South Australia. Occurring in the early hours of the morning, it woke most people across the metropolitan area.

A few buildings in the Darlington area were demolished. Widespread cracking was reported, however it is thought that many cases were pre-existing cracking from soil problems. The insurance payout was about 3 million pounds.

There were many reports of lights in the sky before the event.

No surface rupture was found. It is thought that the earthquake happened on the Eden-Burnside fault at a fairly shallow depth. There was only one tiny aftershock.

GPO Clock.
Britannia Statue, Pirie Street.
Damage to a house in Seacombe Park.
Damage to the Adelaide GPO clock, Pirie Street Britannia Statue, and a house in Seacombe Park.

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Marryat Creek, 30 March 1986

Magnitude 6.0

This earthquake occurred in the far north of the state, just south of the Northern Territory border. It is the first earthquake in South Australia since 1837 where we can match a surface rupture with an earthquake report. The rupture was a boomerang shape, pointing NE, and about 14kms long. The maximum movement was about 0.8m in the E-W direction and 0.6m in the vertical direction.

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Mt Barker, 16 April 2010, 11:27pm ACST

Magnitude 3.8

Epicentre: Between Mount Barker and Wistow. Latitude: -35.099°, Longitude: 138.866°
Focus: About 25 km deep 

The earthquake was felt over the whole metropolitan area, mostly with reports of Modified Mercalli Intensities 3 to 4. Many people were woken with numerous felt reports up to 50 km from the epicentre. Isolated felt reports were received up to 95 km. The immediate public response was so great that the local ABC office was reopened to broadcast live on the event.

No foreshocks or aftershocks were recorded.

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Belair, 6 January 2014, 8:25am ACST

Magnitude  2.6

Epicentre: Slightly south of Belair with an uncertainty of 1.5 km
Focus: About 10 km deep with an uncertainty of 1.5 km

The earthquake was noticed widely across the metropolitan area, but only weakly, and for a very short time. Mostly people heard it rather than felt it. Those close to the epicentre reported more of an explosion, bang or thump, while those further away usually reported the sound of a truck.

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Yunta, 29 April 2014, 7:24pm ACST

Magnitude 4.8

Epicentre: Approximately 27 km south of Yunta and a similar distance from Nackara.
Depth: Uncertain as there are no seismographs near the area

The earthquake was widely felt across the state. Given the low population density around the area of the epicentre there were very few people who felt strong vibrations, but it was felt as far away as Gawler and Tailem Bend.

A number of aftershocks were recorded following this event.

Hawthorndene, 25 March 2015, 2.30am ACST

Magnitude 1.7

Epicentre: Hawthorndene-Belair area with uncertainty of 2 km
Focus: About 10 km deep with an uncertainty of 2 km

The earthquake was noticed by a few people, mostly in the Hills area. It was a very weak vibration, and very short. Geoscience Australia received 15 felt reports which can be seen on the map below.

The earthquake focus and focal mechanism were calculated using seismograms from private stations (7), seismographs in schools (1), DSTO (1), Geoscience Australia (2) and Geological Survey of South Australia (9) stations.

This earthquake is very close to the same position and depth as the Belair earthquake on 6 January 2014.

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Kersbrook, 31 March 2015, 6.48am ACST

Magnitude 2.3

Epicentre: About 3 km South of Kersbrook with uncertainty of 2 km
Focus: About 23 km with uncertainty of 3 km

The earthquake was noticed, but only by very few people.   

The earthquake focus was deeper than most events in the region.

Seismograms were recorded by private stations(6), seismographs in schools (1), Geoscience Australia (1) and Geological Survey of SA (9) stations.   This enabled the calculation of a focal mechanism, which showed roughly east-west compression.

Kangaroo Island, 19 June 2016, 11.24 am (ACST)

Magnitude 4.8

This is one of the largest earthquakes to occur near Kangaroo Island in more than 50 years. It occurred a few kilometres out to sea on the western end of the island.

The earthquake has been widely felt right across Kangaroo Island, and also Port Lincoln, Yorke Peninsula, Victor Harbor and some suburbs of Adelaide. An earthquake this size maybe felt weakly up to about 200 km away, but damaging vibrations are limited to about 20 km.

Previous earthquakes on Kangaroo Island

For more information, contact:

David Love
Senior Geophysicist Seismologist
+61 8 8463 3177
david.love@sa.gov.au