Magnitude 5.8 quake in Melbourne shakes Canberra, South East NSW

Lottie Twyford 22 September 2021 86

Canberra and surrounds earthquake map. Image: Geoscience Australia.

Residents of Canberra, the South Coast, Geelong and Melbourne have had their mornings shaken up by a magnitude 5.8 earthquake at a depth of 10 kilometres.

According to Geoscience Australia, the epicentre of the earthquake was near Mansfield in Victoria and it occurred at around 9:15 am. It’s believed to be the biggest earthquake in Victoria for a century or more.

People from Wagga Wagga, Tumut, Canberra, the South West Slopes and the surrounding region, and the South Coast from Narooma to Ulladulla have already reported experiencing the quake via the Geoscience Australia website. You can see Geoscience Australia’s “felt reports” here.

In Canberra, reports have come in from Braddon, Ainslie, Turner, Kaleen and Deakin among many other areas. Most of these are likely to be in valley floors, where shocks are felt more strongly than on hilltops.

Geologist Marion Leiba says that the quake’s amplitude was too large to be fully measured on her seismograph in Kambah, which also shows two aftershocks.

Marion says that the Newcastle earthquake aftershocks were felt across much of South Eastern Australia, although it was a good deal smaller in terms of energy released. Newcastle was rated a 5.4 magnitude earthquake and past quakes at Gunning and Dalton nearby have been up to 5.5 magnitude. They were also perceived across many areas of NSW and Victoria.

“This one is a lot bigger,” Marion said. “The Continental shelf would get one of this size on average every eight years, but a quake this size in South Eastern Australia is a very rare occurrence.”

Seismograph reading

Geologist Marion Leiba’s seismograph readout from Kambah. The main quake is at the left with an aftershock around 9:34 am. Image: Marion Leiba.

Australian earthquakes tend to be shallow and at 10 km, this means the breakage in the earth’s crust happened very close to the surface and human habitation. Marion says that larger earthquakes happen relatively frequently in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, but tend to be very deep.

“They often won’t do much damage if they’re hundreds of kilometres deep. But 10 kilometres beneath the surface is very close and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear reports of significant damage”, she said.

Aftershocks from a large earthquake could go on for days or weeks and Marion said a sensitive seismograph would detects tens if not hundreds of small shocks after the Mansfield quake.

People were quick to take to social media to report their experiences.

In Broulee, whole buildings were said to have moved, while a Victorian resident said she heard a rumbling in the distance before her laptop and desk starting shaking.

“When I looked outside, everyone was standing on their balconies looking scared, too!”

There are some reports of building damage beginning to emerge in Melbourne where inner-city apartment buildings are being evacuated as a precaution.

In Greenway, Julie said the quake “felt as though there was a generator running downstairs for 10 or 20 seconds”, while Nevenka, also in Greenway on the sixth floor of an apartment, said the “building shook and mirrors swayed, cats freaked out and wouldn’t move”.

In Lyneham, Damien said the “5th-floor whole building was swaying side to side, concrete walls were creaking and most things that could had a visible oscillation going on”.

The Bureau of Meteorology has confirmed there is now no tsunami threat to Australia.

Did you feel the quake too? Share your stories with us.


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86 Responses to Magnitude 5.8 quake in Melbourne shakes Canberra, South East NSW
Hembrow-Gersey Brigitta Hembrow-Gersey Brigitta 9:47 am 22 Sep 21

Yes, felt it in Phillip

Diane Szego Falla Diane Szego Falla 9:49 am 22 Sep 21

Yes, mild swaying on level 2 in Jerrabomberra!

Mia Ploughman Mia Ploughman 9:49 am 22 Sep 21

Felt it in O’Connor. Felt like someone was shaking the back of my chair. Glasses were tinkling in the cupboard.

Cassie Carey Cassie Carey 9:49 am 22 Sep 21

Felt my desk and chair move in Dickson.

Carmel Swan Carmel Swan 9:51 am 22 Sep 21

Yeah... felt it in Bruce... at first I thought it was me but then noticed my bookshelves swaying.

Judy Conlon Judy Conlon 9:52 am 22 Sep 21

Yes, felt it in Fisher

Josh Wellz Josh Wellz 9:54 am 22 Sep 21

Felt the milk crate move in Phillip Scott Távarès 😂😂😂

Daniel Smith Daniel Smith 9:54 am 22 Sep 21

Apartment in Braddon shook pretty hard. Tv was swinging on the wall

Gay McGuire Gay McGuire 9:54 am 22 Sep 21

Kambah no I didn’t but my cat Bella did jumped off the bed & ran to the front of the Villa. 🙀

Damien Benney Damien Benney 9:54 am 22 Sep 21

I’d just prepared a protein shake and presto it’s now shaken not stirred.

Damien Hawkes Damien Hawkes 9:55 am 22 Sep 21

Lyneham, 5th floor whole building was swaying side to side, concrete walls were creaking and most things that could had a visible oscillation going on

Andrea Flores Reategui Andrea Flores Reategui 9:56 am 22 Sep 21

Yes, felt it in belconnen, on 23th level 😬

Tracy Reeves Tracy Reeves 9:57 am 22 Sep 21

Apartment in Braddon shook

Pauline Coates Pauline Coates 9:57 am 22 Sep 21

Yep swaying in my unit in Dickson

Indu Bhandari Indu Bhandari 10:01 am 22 Sep 21

Janardan Devkota I never joke 😞

Cindy Hunt Cindy Hunt 10:03 am 22 Sep 21

Yep! Greenway. House was creaking like it was really windy outside. Chair wobbled!

Leanne Griffin Leanne Griffin 10:04 am 22 Sep 21

In Greenway, on 4th floor the building shook. Very freaky

Anka Jovic Anka Jovic 10:04 am 22 Sep 21

McKellar zero to my knowledge 😀

Vicki Bates-Graham Vicki Bates-Graham 10:08 am 22 Sep 21

Nothing in Conder 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️

    Victoria D'Alton Victoria D'Alton 10:19 am 22 Sep 21

    Vicki Bates-Graham the world hasn’t shaken like that for me for a long time Vic. Thought all my Christmas’ had come at once. Only joking!! But yes - it was significant down here in Melbs.

    Vicki Bates-Graham Vicki Bates-Graham 10:26 am 22 Sep 21

    Victoria D'Alton - not sure what else the world has install for us this year!! Hope you are ok lovey ♥️♥️

    Victoria D'Alton Victoria D'Alton 10:27 am 22 Sep 21

    It’s been a couple of tough years for sure. I had to evacuate my apartment building for a bit. Part of a wall collapsed in Chapel St apparently.

    Pieter Price Pieter Price 10:31 am 22 Sep 21

    Vicki Bates-Graham I felt it here sitting on lounge I thought the dog was behind lounge then she came walking in the room.. 🤔 I thought what’s happening to me now 😂 I’m losing it…

    Vicki Bates-Graham Vicki Bates-Graham 10:48 am 22 Sep 21

    Wouldn’t be surprised if you’re losing your mind - you definitely wouldn’t be alone 🤣👍♥️

Gail Sanders Gail Sanders 10:08 am 22 Sep 21

All quiet in Watson

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