Early History Of Seismic Design And Codes In Australia

AEES members John Woodside and Kevin McCue have written a paper that discusses the early history of earthquake codes, standards and seismic design in Australia including the publication of AS 2121 in 1979 and the first edition of AS 1170.4 in 1993 and how it has impacted on the design community. When AS 2121 was first introduced, it was limited to projects designed by the Commonwealth Government throughout Australia through the Department of Housing and Construction, for buildings and houses in the Meckering area in WA. It was then introduced into SA in 1983 for buildings over 12 m in height.

The Newcastle earthquake in 1989 showed that seismic design for buildings in Australia was urgently required and indeed hastened the work of the subcommittee for the new earthquake loading code AS 1170.4. However, it was not until the publication of AS 1170.4 in 1993 and its adoption in 1994 in the BCA, that structural engineers started to become familiar with the design principles for seismic loads although it was still to take another 10 to 15 years to be fully accepted by the design community. Unfortunately, there is a new generation of owners, designers, and contractors some of whom still believe that earthquake design is not required in Australia.

Download the full paper here.

Historical Earthquakes in Victoria – A Revised List

by Kevin McCue.


Earthquakes 1855-1945, detailed in this report

Victorian Earthquakes 1970-2014 SRC

Earthquakes 1954 to 2014, courtesy Seismology Research Centre

This paper lists felt-earthquakes in Victoria before 1954 with better-substantiated dates, magnitudes and locations. A significant earthquake and aftershock listed in 1868 actually occurred in 1869. Earthquakes felt throughout Melbourne in 1862 and 1892 and others have been re- discovered; surprising how often earthquakes have rattled Melbourne and suburbs. This and other new information has been mainly sourced from old Australian newspapers using TROVE the Australian National Library’s on-line scans of early newspapers and other sources. A plot of the historical data shows a similar distribution but not frequency of epicentres to the post-1965 data which will lower uncertainties in hazard assessments by improving source zone definitions, activity rates and the magnitude threshold of completeness intervals.

The events described include poorly studied, moderate-sized earthquakes that shook Melbourne in 1885, 1922 and Benalla in 1946, let alone the two destructive Warrnambool earthquakes in 1903, each with one small felt aftershock. More damage was caused by these moderate earthquakes than is generally acknowledged.

Download the PDF: Historical earthquakes in Victoria