By Nick

Recording of the Canberra earthquake this morning by seismometers from the Australian Seismometers in Schools network. http://www.facebook.com/ausisnetwork

There was an earthquake in Canberra this morning at 5:09am, which, as you might expect, has made everyone here at the department a bit excited this morning. Not that most of us felt a thing. Only one person at morning tea today reported feeling anything, and she blames the fact she was on the second floor of a building, didn’t have the door quite shut so it rattled, and her bed was on wheels! To cap it all off she’s from New Zealand anyway, so wasn’t impressed at all by the size of the Australian quakes.

I myself have never felt an earthquake. My ability to sleep through almost anything came to the fore last night, as it did last time I was in an earthquake, back in the UK.

So what do we know about this quake. It’s very early to tell much but it was obviously quite a small earthquake, around magnitude 3.7. It’s epicenter (the place where the earthquake originated) was 40km to the west of the city between Canberra and Tumut, and the quake was felt up to 50km away.

To give you an idea of what a magnitude 3.7 is like, its about the equivalent of 100 tons of TNT and there should be tens of thousands of them every year.

There’s been no reported major damage, just a few cracked window panes

Small earthquakes of this size are actually reasonably common in Australia, despite it not really being anywhere near a tectonic plate boundary. This one was the ninth recorded in Australia already this year. Canberra itself does experience earthquakes like these occasionally, but they are usually out to the north – although one this size is towards the upper end of what is experienced by the capital (The largest being a magnitude 4.2 in 1998). See here for more information on earthquakes in the Canberra region

Luckily the major fault lines that run through Canberra have been inactive for 300 million years, so no major earthquake is ever likely to hit. Which is lucky as Canberra only has three earthquake resistant buildings: Parliament House, the Deakin Telephone Exchange (owned by the Department of Defence and used by NASA) and Black Mountain Tower.

It would be nice to feel one sometime though!