Melbourne Earthquake: Large and Shallow, Biggest in Victoria in over 100 Years

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By Arlene Paredes | June 20, 2012 12:19 PM EST

The Melbourne earthquake Tuesday night, the most massive tremor felt in Victoria in over a century, is described by scientists to be large and shallow, as it was very close to the surface of the earth.

The earthquake struck Gippsland around 8:55 Tuesday night. The ground shaking was felt right in the centre of Melbourne as well as in the suburbs.

"It was about 10 kilometres south-west of the city of Moe. It happened pretty close to the surface of the Earth. And with shallow earthquakes, they can be felt in a pretty wide area," Allison Caldwell, geophysicist from the US Geological Survey in Colorado, told ABC radio.

No major damages or injuries was reported following the quake, but shops had closed temporarily to fix many items that fell off the shelves.

"It felt like a train went through the house. Possums were on the roof and they got scared. And it shook for a couple of minutes," a radio caller shared with the listeners.

Another caller said their whole house shook for about 45 seconds.

"My whole chair started to move and the curtains were swinging in the room. And I thought, was it like imagination? But scary," another Aussie shared with broadcaster Tony Eastley.

Geoscience Australia's website had crashed on the same night of the quake because of a huge demand for information from Aussie web users.

When the Geoscience website came back, it carried news that the quake was the biggest in the state for 109 years. It also reported the earthquake had a magnitude of 5.3 and not 5.5 as earlier reported.

"Normally in Victoria we have, you know, magnitude 3, magnitude 4 earthquakes. Back in 1969 there was a 5.3 - so similar magnitude - near Boolarra which is only just further south of this event," seismologist David Jepsen told ABC.

Mr Jepsen said Tuesday's earthquake was the largest felt in Victoria in one hundred years. He reported that aftershocks were felt after the big tremor.

"There've been much smaller in magnitude, round about 3.5. So only those people right on top of the events would've actually felt those."

Victoria's State Emergency Service received a number of calls for assistance after the quake.

"Most of those (calls for help) look like minor house damage - cracked walls, cracked ceilings. I believe I've had one garage collapse. We've also had some incidences of gas leaks, which are a bit of a concern and we've urged people in those situations to vacant the premises until that's been rectified," said SES spokesman Lachlan Quick.

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