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Darwin earthquake: NT shakes as magnitude 6.7 earthquake hits off Indonesia

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Darwin earthquake: NT shakes as magnitude 6.7 earthquake hits off Indonesia

Post by Harry on Wed Dec 21, 2016 7:49 pm

Darwin earthquake: NT shakes as magnitude 6.7 earthquake hits off Indonesia

Epicentre 630km north-west of Darwin, where residents reported tremor lasting several minutes

Map showing epicentre (red dot) of earthquake in Indonesia on 21 December 2016 that was felt in Darwin in the Northern Territory, Australia.

Agencies

Tuesday 20 December 2016 23.16 EST

A magnitude 6.7 earthquake near Indonesia has shaken people in the Northern Territory, but authorities say there is no tsunami threat to Australia.

Geoscience Australia confirmed tremors from the quake near the Banda Sea off Indonesia were felt in Darwin on Wednesday morning.

The quake occurred around 9am local Indonesian time with an epicentre 180km deep, and there were no immediate reports of damage. Indonesia’s disaster agency said residents in the south-west of the Moluccas island chain also felt the quake.
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The epicentre was 630km north-west of Darwin, but Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Chris Kent, who is based in the city, said the quake lasted several minutes.

Local Andy Chandler was on a ladder in her kitchen in Coconut Grove doing some pre-Christmas cleaning when she felt the tremor. “Pots and pans started rattling and the whole house and everything started shaking,” she told ABC local radio.

Fellow Darwinian Bev Luke said she watched the Christmas decorations “do a dance” in her home, while Celeste Green said she felt the earth move under her feet. “My whole building just shook for about five seconds, so much that my pictures fell off the wall,” Green said.

Australia’s Northern Territory News said the quake was widely felt across Darwin and surrounding areas.

Angela Pattison said Howard Springs was “rocking and rolling” with the tremor. “The fish tank was a-sloshing and the cabinets were a-rattling and my chair was doing the four-legged jive!” she said.

Other Territorians felt it as far away as the Tiwi Islands, Yirrkala in Eastern Arnhem Land and in Katherine.

Dan Jaksa, senior seismologist at Geoscience Australia, said earthquakes happen regularly in the Banda Sea, which are often felt in the Top End. “In the past 20 years there’s been more than 140 over magnitude six in the region,” he said.

Jaksa said the shaking from the seismic waves travels more readily on the Australian tectonic plate than the Indonesian one.
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“Most of the motion is on our plate. It was probably felt less in the immediate region where the epicentre is than it was in Darwin,” he said.

The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre has ruled out a tsunami threat.

Jaksa said earthquakes at this depth don’t produce damaging surface waves because the fault is less likely to rupture the seafloor.

The Banda Sea lies on the Ring of Fire, an area where tectonic plates collide that is known for volcanic eruptions and about 90% of the world’s earthquakes. Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

Earthquakes are rare in Australia because the country doesn’t lie on an immediate tectonic plate boundary, but Jaksa said “never say never”.

“The biggest earthquakes that have occurred are in the Northern Territory,” he said.

Australia’s largest quake was a 6.6 magnitude in Tennant Creek in 1988, followed by a 6.5 tremor in Western Australia’s Meckering in 1968. The third-biggest was again in the Territory, when a 6.4 magnitude quake rattled the Simpson Desert in 1941.

Australian Associated Press and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

Harry
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