Earthquakes

Earthquakes - before, during and after 

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An earthquake is a shaking of the Earth's crust. They strike without warning and vary greatly in severity. Earthquakes can be caused by: 

 - Underground volcanic forces
 - The breaking of rock under the Earth's surface 
 - The sudden movement along an existing fault line.
  
Most earthquake deaths are caused by falling objects. Other effects of an earthquake can include:
 
 - Damage to electricity and telephone lines
 - Rupturing of gas, sewer and water mains
 - Landslides, faults and subsidence
 - Tsunamis.

In 1993 a standard for designing buildings in Australia for earthquake loads was released with national application. As a result, since about 1995 Australian buildings that are subject to engineered design have either been specifically designed for earthquake loads or have a severe wind loading as the most demanding loading condition. Residential homes of framed construction (the most common type) are not typically designed for earthquake loads but are constructed to resist wind loads that give them resistance to earthquakes. Modern masonry buildings (including domestic scale) also have earthquake detailing requirements to make them more resistant which include ensuring the building elements are well tied together and that brick ties within cavities do not corrode in coastal regions.

Before an earthquake

 - Find out how and where to turn off power, gas and water
 - Plan with your family (or household) where you will meet if separated
 - Know your safe areas during an earthquake
 - Check your insurance policy to make sure it is adequate and that you are covered for damage caused by earthquakes.

Watch for warning signs 
 
 - Erratic animal behaviour—scared or confused pets, or birdcalls not usually heard at night may indicate that an earthquake is imminent
 - Ground water levels—watch for sudden water level changes in wells or artesian bores.

During an earthquake
 
 
 - If indoors, stay there (clear of falling debris outside) ◦Keep clear of windows, chimneys and overhead fittings. Shelter under and hold onto a door frame, strong table or bench
 - In high-rise buildings, stay clear of windows and outer walls. Shelter under a desk near a pillar or internal wall
 - Do not use elevators
 - In crowded buildings, do not rush for doors, but move clear of overhead fittings and shelves
 - If outside—keep well clear of buildings, overhead structures, walls, bridges, powerlines, trees, etc 
 - On a city street, shelter from falling debris under strong archways or doorways of buildings. Don't go under awnings as they may collapse 
  - If in a vehicle—stop in an open area until the shaking stops ◦Beware of downed powerlines and road damage, including overpasses and bridges.
 - Listen to your car radio for warnings before moving. 
  
  After an earthquake

 - Turn off electricity, gas, and water. Do not light matches until after you have checked for gas or fuel leaks
 - Check for injuries and apply first aid. Do not move seriously injured people unless they are in immediate danger
 - Check for broken water, sewerage or electrical mains
 - Do not use the telephone immediately (to avoid congestion) unless there is a life-threatening situation
 - Check for cracks and damage to your building
 - Evacuate the building if it is badly damaged, and be prepared for aftershocks
 - Do not waste food and water as supplies may be interrupted. Collect emergency water from heaters, ice cubes, toilet tanks and canned foods
 - Listen to your local radio station and heed warnings and advice on damage and service disruptions
 - Try to avoid driving unless in an emergency (to keep the streets free for emergency services)
 - Do not go sightseeing or enter damaged buildings
 - Try to stay calm and help others if possible.

Related Documents

earthquake magnitude Scale and classes          
Class    Magnitude Earthquake Effects
Great 8 or more Great earthquake. Can totally destroy communities near the epicentre.
Major 7 - 7.9 Major earthquake. Serious damage.
Strong 6 - 6.9 May cause a lot of damage in very populated areas.
Moderate 5 - 5.9 Slight damage to buildings and other structures.
Light 4 - 4.9 Often felt, but only causes minor damage.
Minor 3 - 3.9 Usually not felt, but can be recorded by seismograph.
useful links

If you would like further information regarding earthquakes, please click on a link below.

Geoscience Australia   
Get Ready Queensland

Australian Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub - Tsunami: The Ultimate Guide
Central Queensland Seismology Research Group Report 2016
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