According to the predictions of the international researches, there would be up to 100 deaths, thousands more walking wounded, and not one house would be safe if a 5.5 magnitude earthquake hit the centre of Brisbane.
However, the scenario is entirely hypothetical and highly improbable, says Dr. James Daniell from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, who has modelled the impact of an earthquake in the River City.
Dr. Daniell and his colleague Dr. Bijan Khazai have expored the consequences of a possible earthquake in Brisbane and intend to share their results with the city’s disaster management coordinators.
“We’re putting forward a ‘what if’ scenario for Brisbane,” Dr. Daniell said.
No fault line has been identified directly below Brisbane, but Dr. Daniell has investigated what could happen in the event a 5.5 magnitude earthquake occurred just seven kilometres below the CBD.
It’s just a theoretical earthquake, but it’s something that may not happen, but if it did, there would be widespread damage. And unlike floods, earthquaes cause a lot more damage over a wider area.
He said at least 100,000 houses across Brisbane would suffer cracking, structural failure or partial collapse. No house would really be protected from a high-intensity earthquake. However, Brisbane’s traditional tin and timber homes would likely withstand the shaking better than those made of bricks and mortar.
City high-rises would largely be spared, but older, more vulnerable buildings would be significantly damaged.
The 6.3 magnitude quake which struck the New Zealand city of Christchurch in 2011 killed 185 people and destroyed about 10,000 suburban homes. The damage bill in Christchurch topped $40 billion.
Brisbane is considered to have a lower earthquake risk, but the region has experienced earthquakes in the past.
Geoscience Australia says Australia experiences about 200 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or more every year. It says on its website that a potentially disastrous earthquake of magnitude 6 or more occurs every five years in the country.
Thirteen people died when a 5.6 magnitude earthquake struck Newcastle, in New South Wales, on December 28, 1989.
The quake damaged more than 35,000 homes, leaving an estimated damage bill of $4 billion.