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Meeberrie, WA, April 1941


At Magnitude 7.2, the Meeberrie earthquake of 29 April, 1941, is probably Australia's largest known on-shore earthquake. It was not investigated thoroughly at the time, partly because it occurred during the second world war, and partly because there were no government bodies in existance at the time, whose responsibilies would have included such an investigation. Its epicentre was approximately 200 km NE of Kalbarri. It was felt as far away as Port Hedland in the north, and Albany in the south - see map in section on Isoseismal maps.

DATE & TIME   29 April, 1941, at 01:35:04 hrs GMT

LOCATION        26.8 degrees S, 116.1 degrees E

Three other relatively large earthquakes have occurred in this region of Western Australia since the Meeberrie earthquake. Isoseismal maps can be found for two of these in the Atlas of Isoseismal Maps for Australian Earthquakes ( Part I). They were near Landor Station in June, 1969, and near Maroondah homestead in May, 1978.






Meeberrie29 Apr 1941


--27 Nov 1959


Landor17 Jun 1969


Maroonah1 May  1978




"At approximately 9.45 am a slight tremor was noticed, and this increased in severity and  noise until the buildings began to shake in an alarming manner and then appeared to roll considerably.

Loose articles were shaken off shelves, cupboard doors were blown open and the contents strewn on floors walls cracked and plaster fell from same, both from inside and outside the buildings and was scattered everywhere. This sort of thing went on for about 5 minutes, when the shaking and tumbling gradually died down. From outside it was easy to see the buildings rolling from side to side.         

At first glance the damage did not appear to be very great, but after a thorough examination it was found that every wall in the homestead, quarters, engine room, meathouse and cellar had cracked right through some from floor to ceiling and nearly all in the corners and over windows and door heads.

Strange as it might seem, not a pane of glass was cracked, and there are over 900 panes in the windows and doors of the homestead and adjacent buildings.

Cracks in the ground have been found on the run - definitely caused by the earthquake - and these range from 28 to 61 feet in length, and from 1/2 inch to 2.5 inches in width. it was possible to push a 2 foot rule down these cracks to depths averaging 12 inches. The deepest crack measured 17 inches. Probably they went much deeper.             

Mt. Narryer station, distant about 28 miles due north of Meeberrie, and Wooleen stn 15 miles south of here, both received damage of similar nature to Meeberrie when the quake occurred, but they got off far more lightly."

Meeberrie Station is approximately 160 km north of Mullewa.

Extracted from Bureau of Mineral Resources Rept No. 132, by I.B. Everingham, 1968 - The Seismicity of Western Australia.


(courtesy Alby Jududge)









Centre about 400 Miles Away


    As a result of an earthquake, thought to have been centred about 400 miles from Perth, Western Australia experienced yesterday probably its most severe earth tremor. The shock was felt in practically every part of the State and was recorded on seismographs as far away as Sydney. It is thought likely that the earthquake occurred in a seismic belt known to exist some distance off our west coast, but observations received from the Eastern States last night indicated a possibility that the centre was somewhere east of Geraldton. It will not be possible to fix the locality exactly until furhter information is received from other observatories.

  In the metropolitan area, buildings wee rocked, loose objects were rattled and suspended objects were left swaying for some time after the shock had passed. The shock was felt as a swaying motion rather than a tremor, and hundreds of people, feeling themselves swaying unaccountably, immediately jumped to the conclusion that they were fainting. After the occurrence numerous stories were told of people who felt themselves swaying and remarked "I don’t feel well" only to receive the reply "neither do I". On the other hand many people felt nothing unusual. In the taller city buildings the shock was magnified to such an extent that occupants of the upper floors left their offices in alarm and hurried downstairs into the street. In one or two cases windows were cracked by the shock.

Seismograph Record

  The first intimation received by the Government Astronomer (Mr. H. S. Spigl) was a telephone message from an officer at Swan Barracks, who had noticed a distinct movement of the table at which he was sitting. So prompt was the notification that Mr. Spigi was able to reach the seismograph while the shocks were still being recorded.. The preliminary waves of the disturbance reached the Observatory at nine hours 37 minutes 4 seconds in the morning, and the long waves followed at 9.40 a.m. The maximum movement of the light spot was 12in, indicating a very severe shock. The instrument was still in violent commotion an hour after the first waves were received, although the actual shock only lasted probably two or three minutes. It was explained by Mr. Spigl that the movement of 12in was a very much magnified record of the actual earth movement, which would be only slight. The shock would be similarly magnified, he said, in a tall building, and a movement of half an inch on the ground could quite easily be three or four inches on the top floor.

Location of Disturbance

  Referring to the probable centre of the disturbance, Mr. Spigl said that there was a definite seismic belt in the Indian Ocean extending from a position off North-West Cape to a position some distance west of Geraldton. The shocks were felt along the south coast and for distances 800 miles north and 500 miles east of Perth, but the most severe shocks occurred in the vicinity of Geraldton. The time taken between the reception of the preliminary waves and the recording of the long waves indicated that the earthquake occurred about 400 miles from Perth. This would appear to indicate that it was somewhere in the seismic belt referred to, but reports from Sydney and Adelaide((COPY UNREADABLE HERE) ---- there was a possibility ---east of Geraldton --- able to fix the location --- further observations -- from ManilaThe only comparable --- )recorded in Perth he continued, occurred in 1906, when an earthquake in the Indian Ocean was felt over an extensive area of Western Australia. In was difficult to compare the severity of the two earthquakes as the instrument in use then was much less sensitive than that being used today. It was fairly certain, however, that yesterday’s shock was at least as severe as that experienced in 1906.

  All the delicate instruments at the Observatory were affected, said Mr. Spigl, and the boom of a barograph in the Observatory porch was swung right off the cylinder. The main time clock, which sends out all the time signals, was stopped, and the transit instrument, which is mounted on stable granite pillars and protected from all surface movements, was affected.

from The West Australian

Many residents were alarmed and activities came to an abrupt, if momentary halt in Geraldton as the result of a severe earth tremor which shook the town at about 9.38 o’clock this morning. The morning was close and oppressive with a threat of further rain. People in business had comfortably established themselves at their various everyday tasks and another routine day had commenced. Suddenly attention was directed to a severe rumbling noise, which many at first mistook for the passage of some heavily laden vehicle past their premises. Curiosity quickly gave way in many instances to concern as windows commenced to rattle, followed by the distinct swaying of walls and buildings. Floors appeared to move disquieteningly as many rushed for the out of doors. In all streets of the town small crowds congregated to exchange their experiences and conjecture on the nature of the disturbance responsible for the shock. Others stood in mute astonishment waiting wonderingly to ascertain  what the disturbance was all about. However, the shocks ceased as quickly as they had commenced and after a brief luff life was resumed and business proceeded as usual. No reports of serious damage are to hand, although the dislodgement of plaster from walls and ceilings and the cracking of window panes have been reported.

The Geraldton Guardian and Express, Tuesday April 29, 1941


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