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Major earthquakes in SA

Beachport 10 May 1897

Magnitude 6.5


Beachport earthquake intensity map (.pdf 49.0kb)

The earthquake at Beachport is the largest to have occurred in South Australia since 1837. It caused massive damage in the South East at Kingston, Robe and Beachport, and caused minor damage even in Adelaide. It was felt as far away as Port Augusta and Melbourne. Near the epicentre there were several cases of liquefaction, some spectacular. It is thought that the epicentre was offshore. No tsunami was reported, but aftershocks continued for months.


1. Slumping near Lake Battye (.jpg)
2. Slumping near Robe (.jpg)
3. Slumping near Robe (.jpg)
4. Damage to the Beachport Post Office (.jpg)

Warooka 19 September 1902

Magnitude 6.0


Warooka earthquake original intensity map (.pdf 46.9kb)


Warooka earthquake revised intensity map (.pdf 51.4kb)

The Warooka earthquake caused severe damage on Yorke Peninsula particularly at Warooka, but also at Yankalilla and other nearby places. There was widespread but not great damage around Adelaide.

It was originally thought that the epicentre was at Warooka, but more recent work suggests that it was in St Vincent Gulf.

There was no tsunami or liquefaction reported, but this event did cause at least two deaths, the first known deaths from an earthquake in Australia. There were a number of aftershocks.


1. Building damage at Warooka (.jpg)
2. Building damage at Warooka (.jpg)
3. Building damage at Warooka (.jpg)

Adelaide 1 March 1954

Magnitude 5.5

Adelaide earthquake original intensity map (.pdf 38.5kb)

Adelaide earthquake revised intensity map (.pdf 72.0kb)

This is the most infamous earthquake in South Australia. Occurring in the early hours of the morning, it woke most people across the metropolitan area.

A few buildings in the Darlington area were demolished. Widespread cracking was reported, however it is thought that many cases were pre-existing cracking from soil problems. The insurance payout was about 3 million pounds.

There were many reports of lights in the sky before the event.

No surface rupture was found. It is thought that the earthquake happened on the Eden-Burnside fault at a fairly shallow depth. There was only one tiny aftershock.


1. GPO clock (.jpg)
2. Britannia Statue, Pirie Street (.jpg) The statue was damaged in 1897, 1902 and 1954; the clock was removed after the 1954 event.
3. Plaster damage (.jpg)
4. Damage to a house in Seacombe Park

Marryat Creek 30 March 1986

Magnitude 6.0

This earthquake occurred in the far north of the state, just south of the Northern Territory border. It is the only earthquake in South Australia since 1837 where we can match a surface rupture with an earthquake report. The rupture was a boomerang shape, pointing NE, and about 14kms long. The maximum movement was about 0.8m in the E-W direction and 0.6m in the vertical direction.


Fault scarp (jpg)