February 9, 2024

Victoria rattled by early morning earthquake

By Lachlan Abbott
Updated February 9, 2024 — 6.55amfirst published at 1.22am
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An earthquake in the early hours of Friday has rattled Melbourne and many parts of Victoria.

Geoscience Australia reported the quake’s epicentre was near the South Gippsland town of Leongatha, about 135 kilometres south-east of Melbourne.

Initial estimates measured the quake as a magnitude 4.3, with a depth of seven kilometres.

Residents took to social media within minutes, reporting the tremor had woken them about 12:49am. As of about 7:30am, almost 5,000 felt reports had been made to GeoScience Australia, including some in South Australia and Tasmania.

The Bureau of Meteorology reported there was no tsunami threat as a result of the tremor.

Adam Pascale from the Seismology Research Centre, who was woken in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, said many people across the city would have felt the quake.

“I’m sure that a lot of people across the city have felt this one … and there may be aftershocks continuing, but we will see,” he said in an early morning social media post.

Later, on Melbourne radio station 3AW, Pascale said Friday’s earthquake was yet another notable tremor since a major magnitude 5.9 quake in September 2021.


“This is certainly getting to the magnitude where you might expect some minor damage to appear, but I haven’t heard any reports myself yet.”

Pascale said Friday’s tremor was technically closer to the small town of Meeniyan (population 771) but the closest sizable town was Leongatha. It was recorded on a seismograph in Korumburra that was installed after a magnitude 4.7 quake there in 2009.

“We have certainly been feeling more earthquakes in the last couple of years than we have in the decade or two previous, but it’s still sort of within the normal range of activity for our region of the world.”

On social media platform X, Pascale said tiny aftershocks had already been recorded since Friday’s tremor.

Pascale said smaller quakes – that might not be felt in Melbourne – were regularly recorded near the Great Dividing Range.

“That area is all mountains formed by earthquakes over millions of years and this is just another one that is contributing to it,” he said.

The earthquake struck near Foster, but was felt throughout the region.Credit: Geoscience Australia

Just three days ago, a magnitude 3.1 tremor was recorded close to the tiny Gippsland town of Dumbalk. That earthquake on Tuesday was 10 kilometres from Friday’s stronger quake, according to the Seismology Research Centre’s readings.

Since the major 2021 tremor that caused damage in Melbourne during the depths of the pandemic, several other large tremors have been widely felt in Victoria.

In October last year, a magnitude 5.0 earthquake on the Great Ocean Road near Cape Otway rattled parts of Melbourne.


In June last year, a magnitude 4.6 quake struck near Woods Point in the state’s alpine region.

Melbourne experienced its strongest tremor in 120 years when a shallow magnitude 3.8 struck near Sunbury in May 2023. Experts told The Age at the time it was part of normal seismic activity.

If a huge earthquake hit major Australian cities in future, there would be no advanced warning because, unlike California and Japan, Australia does not have an early warning system.

However, this masthead reported last year that scientists say there are major technical questions about installing one here – and the cost would be enormous, especially when taking into consideration the lack of damage most Australian earthquakes do.

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Lachlan Abbott is a reporter at The Age.Connect via Twitter or email.


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