10 things I’ve learnt about earthquakes since moving to Kalgoorlie

bec bec mine

Bec and I on a mine site. This has nothing to do with earthquakes.

I live in an earthquake prone area, so far this year we’ve had at least more than 10. The 4.6 magnitude quake in February was the most notable, I walked into the office wondering what on earth I was going to write about that day and then BAM! The partitions started shaking. Athankyou Mother Nature.

Smaller ones since then have mostly been aftershocks, some so tiny they go unnoticed. Last night a 2.7 quake hit at about 9pm, and another tiny one this morning (1.7) at about 9am. Here are some thing I’ve learnt about earthquakes:

1. People LOVE them

Even before the rumbling stops the people of Kalgoorlie take to their Facebook feeds to discuss the second or five when the ground shook. “That was a BIG one!”. “Did anyone else feel that?!”. “Felt it on Hare Street!”. “The dogs went crazy!”. “Insert earthquake status here!”. There’s nothing like the shared experience of living through a minuscule quake to get tongues wagging.

2. If you miss them you will feel inadequate

As a result of 1. if you happen to be driving or doing something else that prevents you from feeling the quake you will have nothing to contribute to the discussion. You may as well delete your Facebook account and head back to bed for the rest of the day until something else happens.

On the other end of the scale, if you happen to be underground in a mine during the shake, you automatically become earthquake royalty. Because DANGER. But you will only hear a miner’s experience by word of mouth, because mining companies have social media blackout policies akin to the People’s Republic of China. Which makes them even cooler.

3. People will always ask if it was a blast or a quake 

Regardless of what time the quake hits. Mining companies like to use explosives to break up the ground, but have pretty strict guidelines as to when they are allowed to do so. Ergo, they can’t blast at 2am and wake up the entire town. The main mine in town blasts most afternoons at approximately 3:46pm and it feels like a soft rumble. I’m pretty sure there is a rule about not blasting after 4pm, but I can’t confirm this.

In any case, as soon as an earthquake hits people will take to facebook and ask “WAS IT A BLAST?!” at 11:30pm. No idiots. Check your watch. It was not.

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Super informative blasting times sign.

4. They have to be really big (and really close) to do any damage

Not since the magnitude 5 quake in 2010 has an earthquake done significant damage to the area. So footage of crumbling buildings, groceries flying off shelves and photos of dramatic cracks snaking their way up main street are really hard to come by. Which is really hard to explain to your Perth based editor if they happen to be demanding earthquake photos or vision. Hypothetically.

Also, the magnitude scale is logarithmic, as an earthquake goes up by one magnitude it is considered 30 times larger. So a 4.6 magnitude quake (like the one we had in Feb) is about 10 times smaller than a magnitude 5 (like the one in 2010). Deceptive!

5. Mining doesn’t cause them

Some people will disagree with me here. But I spoke to a seismologist who explained that it’s actually the opposite way around; the areas we tend to mine in are along fault lines that have rich mineral deposits caused by earthquakes thousands of years ago.

6. They don’t go for very long

The ground in Kalgoorlie is really hard, so our earthquakes tend to be big short bangs rather than long wobbling episodes like you see in cities or areas closer to water on softer ground. So it’s barely enough time to dive under a desk or hold onto a doorway (like the cannon scene in Mary Poppins), which is kind of disappointing.

7. They are quite loud

Again because of the hard ground, earthquakes here are generally accompanied by a loud bang. Last night I actually thought someone had banged really hard on the front door, before my Newsfeed exploded with quake updates of course.

8. They are a great way to meet people

After a quake in the middle of the night a year or so back I took to Twitter to see who else had been woken and ended up chatting to Jo, who then became my friend. United by the quake, how beautiful.

9. There is such thing as earthquake insurance

And it’s not generally included in home and contents insurance. I know that because my friend Lauren was telling me today about how she needs it. Random.

10. I kind of like them

Obviously, we’re talking about small quakes that don’t maim or injure people or things. I’m not going to pretend they don’t give me a small thrill! It’s kind of fun to be reminded of how you live at the mercy of nature and whatever it decides to do.

Do you have any experience with earthquakes? Or other natural disasters?

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2 Responses to 10 things I’ve learnt about earthquakes since moving to Kalgoorlie

  1. WOW reading this post was genuinely so interesting for me!
    I guess because Earthquakes are something that we only see on the news here in the UK, that we forget that you can get small insignificant ones!
    Thanks for the info hun 🙂
    x x x

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