Melbourne was shaken Sunday by a rare and shallow earthquake – the largest earthquake to hit the Australian city in over a century – swaying buildings but ultimately causing very little damage.
Preliminary information indicated the 3.8-magnitude quake struck the northwestern suburb of Sunbury at 11:41 pm local time at a depth of 2 kilometers (1.24 miles), according to government agency Geoscience Australia.
Adam Pascale, chief scientist at the Victoria-based Seismology Research Centre, said the earthquake was the largest within 40 kilometers of Melbourne since a magnitude 4.5 quake hit in 1902.
“It woke me up! Probably 5-10 seconds of minor shaking. The adrenaline hasn’t dissipated yet…” Pascale said on Twitter.
Geoscience Australia said it had received more than 21,000 reports of the quake, with shockwaves felt as far away as the city of Bendigo, about 150 kilometers north of Melbourne, and as far south as Hobart on the island of Tasmania.
Melbourne in April surpassed Sydney to become Australia’s most populous city – and many among the city’s 5.8 million residents woke up Monday with a tale to tell.
“Felt like a plane crashed next to my house or something,” one resident said, according to CNN affiliate 7News.
“I’m on the 70th floor in the Eureka Tower and the entire building swayed a couple of metres,” another Melbourne resident said on Twitter, referring to a downtown skyscraper, CNN affiliate Sky News Australia reported.
One person said they “ran out of the house with a machete” in their pajamas.
“Our old house sounded like it was getting broken into,” they added, according to Sky News Australia.
Most earthquakes happen in the Pacific Ring of Fire, where the world’s most active volcanoes lie and where tremors occur as tectonic plates push against each other.
Earthquakes are not as common in Australia though the continent does experience seismic activity due to tectonic plate movement.
In 2021, Victoria experienced a magnitude 5.9 earthquake that caused some minor structural damage in Melbourne despite hitting nearly 200 kilometers away.