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Earthquakes rock Cairns and Grafton on the east coast of Australia overnight

Earthquakes rock Cairns and Grafton on the east coast of Australia overnight


Earthquakes hit two Australian cities overnight.

Key points: Two tremors were recorded on the east coast of Australia overnight. Cairns reported an earthquake at 10.15pm, and Grafton at around 2am.

Geoscience Australia said a 4.3-magnitude earthquake was recorded at around 10:15 pm, 125 km off the coast of Cairns.

A magnitude 3.1 earthquake was also recorded in the Pillar Valley, southeast of Grafton on the northern coast of New South Wales around 2am.

There were no reports of damage or injuries from either event although residents reported the ground shaking.

There were no tsunami warnings.

The Cairns area has a history of earthquakes (Supplied: Geoscience Australia)

Geoscience Australia said it had received reports that the earthquake was felt as far north as Queensland in Cairns, Atherton Tablelands, Innisfail and Babinda.

Jonathan Bathgate, chief seismologist at Geoscience Australia, said that although Australia tends to experience earthquakes in “random locations” the Grafton earthquake was not typical.

“It’s unusual, the Grafton area hasn’t recorded a lot of earthquakes for us,” he said.

He said the Cairns quake was a “reasonably large earthquake”.

“There is a history of earthquakes in this offshore area, so we are not surprised by this event,” he said.

“We’ve had about 20 people report feeling this across the Cairns area.

“We get on average about 100 magnitude 3 earthquakes across the country each year and about 10 magnitude 4 events each year.

He said a 4.8-magnitude earthquake occurred off the coast of Innisfail in 2003 and a 4.3-magnitude earthquake in 1990 in the same area.

Bathgate said the tremors were the result of constant shifts in the tectonic plate that Australia sits on.

“All of this is caused by the Australian plate moving northward by about 7 centimeters each year, and this places stresses on local fault lines that often wear off with relatively small earthquakes,” he said.

“But sometimes some bigger ones can happen.”

Geoscience Australia said the 4.3-magnitude quake occurred off the coast of Cairns on Wednesday evening. (Supplied: Geoscience Australia) Population Rumble Report

Sue Richards, from Atherton, said she had just fallen asleep when the windows in her home rattled.

“I thought it might be a bit of a wind-up,” Mrs. Richards said.

“Then I thought it was earthmoving equipment but now I know what it is.”

Milla Mela resident Wilma told local ABC radio she felt her home, west of Cairns, shaking.

“I felt the ground shake,” she said.

“I live on the highway and there were no trucks going by then.”

Kelly Whitehouse, a Minniewater woman, works at a coffee shop in Woolley, just hours after she felt the earthquake.

Kelly Whitehouse of Minniewater East Grafton said she felt the earthquake when she got up to let her dog out of the house.

“The dog started going crazy and then I felt him through the floor and everything was shaking a little bit,” she said.

The sound was so loud that you could feel the vibration across the floor.

“It wasn’t comfortable, I couldn’t go back to sleep after that. It was so daunting.”

Loud bangs

Many of the earthquakes that occur in Australia go unnoticed, Bathgate said.

“For an earthquake of this magnitude, it’s more about what people hear than what they feel,” he said.

“There’s not a lot of vibration associated with a Force 3; it’s generally a kind of rumble or loud bang.

“They’re relatively short-lived, and you don’t get the jig and stuff off the shelves and things like that until you get to size 4s and up.”

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