A small earthquake struck northern NSW last night with police inundated with phone calls, with many people concerned the rattling of windows and doors was the work of home invaders. According to Geoscience Australia the magnitude 4.2 quake struck at about 9.30pm, with residents in the Manila, Tamworth and Gunnedah areas reporting shaking.
Local police said they had been inundated with calls – with lines jammed for about 20 minutes following the quake – but that there had been no reports of damage. Many of the callers believed someone was trying to break into their homes because they could hear windows shaking. According to Geoscience Australia it was the tenth tremor recorded in mainland Australia this week.
The 4.2 magnitude quake struck at Lake Keepit, northeast of Gunnedah, at 9.31pm yesterday, It had a depth of 17km. A similar sized earthquake nearby struck about two minutes earlier, the Australian Seismological Centre says. The centre’s director Kevin McCue said these were the first earthquakes greater than magnitude 4 to strike inland northern NSW since December 1969, when a magnitude 5 quake struck near Coonabarabran.
Mr McCue said last night’s quakes were felt as far as Coonabarabran, 120km from the epicentre, as well as in Tamworth and Gunnedah. “I was talking to people up there. All the glass was jiggling in cupboards,” he said. “It’s unusual to have an earthquake of this size.”
He said it’s unlikely the quakes caused structural damage to homes in major towns, but some may have cracked walls or chimneys. Twitter accounts have come in from Tamworth, Manilla and Gunnedah.
Seismologist Dr Michael Phillips, who lives 5km from Coonabarabran, said his wife Claire Milton, a doctor, and their eight-year-old son Max felt the earthquakes in their farmhouse. “They heard and felt it,” he said. “The china in the cabinet was rattling and my son’s bunk bed was banging on the wall. “The whole house was rattling and shaking – it lasted 30 seconds.” Dr Phillips, who is also a physicist, said the size of the earthquakes had overwhelmed his seismological measuring equipment.”It was too much for the instrument,” Dr Phillips said, adding it was likely that one of the earthquakes was an aftershock.