Daily Archives: June 20, 2012

Earthquakes in Melbourne

The big news here in Melbourne is that last night we experienced an earthquake measuring 5.3 in magnitude, the largest in 100 years.

The Port Phillip Herald of 11 June 1841 reported an earthquake too:

On Sunday last, during the hours of divine service, a rumbling noise was heard in the earth, supposed to be the forerunner of an earthquake.  In the church it was distinctly heard, and the congregation alarmed; also in several parts of the town, giving rise to various speculations upon the subject.

And well might they speculate. Seismology as a discipline was at a rudimentary stage, with the development of monitoring equipment still some decades in the future. The good people of Port Phillip in 1841, who had only been settling in substantial  numbers since 1835, were not to know whether this new frontier was earthquake-prone or not. On the other hand, perhaps it was just a rattling good sermon…