Earthquake Alarm Service for Victoria

Victoria is one of the most uniformly monitored states in Australia for earthquake activity, growing from a small research project run by the Preston Institute of Technology to a network with statewide earthquake alarm capabilities.

The Seismology Research Centre (SRC) commenced operating a seismograph network for the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) in 1976 around Sugarloaf Reservoir, about 25km northeast of Melbourne. Soon after, additional instruments were installed for the Rural Water Commission and State Electricity Commission at various locations, and a reservoir triggered seismicity network was installed for MMBW around Thomson Reservoir while Thomson Dam was still under construction. 

In 1998, following the corporatisation of the Victorian Water Industry, the various water authorities got together to fund a statewide seismic monitoring network. The aim was to establish a high resolution seismic network capable of accurately locating all earthquakes within the state and provide near real time earthquake alerts to all stakeholders. That network continues to today and now comprises 23 permanent seismographs and accelerographs located throughout Victoria as shown below.

Data from the Victorian Water Industry seismic network is combined with data from similar networks operated for stakeholders in South Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland as well as data from the Geoscience Australia national network, and data from instruments operated by various University and private groups.

The density of seismographs within the state, along with the routine analysis of the collected data, has allowed many more earthquakes to be detected, and for their locations and magnitudes to be determined to a much greater accuracy. The maps below show the Victorian earthquake catalogue in the 47 years leading up to the establishment of the SRC in 1976, compared to the subsequent 47 years to the end of 2022.

Data is transmitted to our seismic server in near real time, and any significant events are alerted to our 24/7 team of duty seismologists which allows the SRC to provide high quality epicentre location solutions for earthquakes within Victoria, down to very low magnitudes, within minutes.

The near real-time earthquake solutions are combined with our database of client assets to enable us to provide an earthquake alarm report to stakeholders that provides relevant situation awareness information, including damage probability estimates and mitigation tasks, within minutes of an earthquake occurring.

This information is normally provided initially by short message service (SMS) followed by more detailed information emailed as a PDF document, followed up phone call to confirm receipt of the messages. 

The format of the communication is able to be customised to stakeholder requirements to streamline the information for inclusion into Dam Safety Emergency Plans or for any other requirements.