Highlands News

Geoscience Australia Reports 7.5 Magnitude Earthquake Was Natural

By Vasinatta Yama – EMTV News, Mt Hagen

Scientists say the cause of the recent 7.5 magnitude earthquake in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea was natural. The Department of Geoscience Australia released a report to PNG Government, clarifying that rumours of it being man-made was not true. Geoscience Australia is currently working with PNG disaster centre to build capacity and resilience.

According to a report produced by the Geoscience Australia, the size and the intensity of the 7.5 magnitude Earthquake were consistent with the natural movement of tectonic plates that meet in the central Highlands of Papua New Guinea where Hela Province is located.

The earth’s crust is made up of tectonic plates. It is like larges pieces of a puzzle formed over millions of years. They are constantly moving – sometimes by just millimetres. Any bigger movement results in the earthquakes we feel.

Geoscience Australia, which conducted the study, stated that the earthquake started at a depth of at least 17 km, which is not consistent with earthquakes triggered through mining activities, which generally occur at depths less than 5km.

The recent earthquake in Hela and Southern Highlands Provinces has a death toll of over 80 people killed and hundreds injured. More properties were damaged and some covered under landslips.

Geoscience Australia stated that the magnitude of the earthquake is firm with what would be expected in this region, based on the local tectonic plates. The department and the Australian Government are working closely with PNG observatory center to monitor earthquake in PNG, as well as updating the standard PNG building codes which can stand such earthquakes.

PNG has a volcano observatory centre in East New Britain Province. Geoscience Australia will build another at Bagana in Bougainville.

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