Newcastle Australia 1989 (CAR)

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Event ID
198912272326
Event name
Newcastle
Country
Australia
Region in the country
New South Wales
World region
Oceania
Epicentral coordinates (long/lat)
POINT(151.61 -33.95)
WKT GIS format
GEMECD contributing partner
CAR
Event narrative

On Thursday December 28, 1989, at 10:27 am local time an earthquake of moment magnitude (Mw) 5.4 occurred in the east coast of Australia (New South Wales) at a depth of ~10.5km.

The epicenter (33.95 S, 151.61 W) was located near Boolaroo (a suburb of the city of Lake Macquarie), approximately 15 km WSW of Newcastle’s Central Business District (CBD) and 10 km to the NW of the Lake Macquarie CBD.

The focal mechanism was consistent with a NW striking thrust fault supposedly NE dipping, probably associated with the Hunter-Mooki Thrust Fault System that defines the northern margin of the Sydney Basin.

Despite the moderate magnitude of the mainshock, even for Australian standards, the 1989 Newcastle earthquake was the most damaging and costly earthquake in the Country since European settlement.

Date of occurrence (UTC)
1989-12-27
date
Time of occurrence (UTC)
23:26:27
time
Date of occurrence (local)
1989-12-28
date
Time of occurrence (local)
10:26:27
time
Day of the week (local)
Thursday
Magnitude
5.4
Magnitude units
Moment (Mw)
Focal depth
10.5
km
Seismological data: source
USGS
Seismological data: comment

ShakeMap Atlas

Overall impact

The effects were felt over an area of about 200,000 km2, with isolated reports of movement up to 800 km away from Newcastle.

The area sustaining structural damage extended from Newcastle to Liverpool (Sydney) in the south (138 km); Scone in the north-west (145 km); and Gladstone (near Kempsey) in the north (320 km).

The presence of soft alluvial soils, along with the location and condition of particular types of buildings represented a fatal cocktail resulting in extensive damage and loss of human lives.

Badly hit was Newcastle’s CBD and some of its suburbs, built on relatively deep soft alluvial soils, where the maximum assessed intensity was between MM VII and VIII, depending upon who performed the survey. Most of the damage occurred to old and deteriorated unreinforced masonry residential buildings largely built between 1900 and 1950 with some of them dated back to the 1860’s. New buildings (post-1950’s) performed well, this is particularly significant since there where no earthquake design requirements for Newcastle. The exception was the Newcastle Workers Club, where a section built in 1972 collapsed killing 9 people.

The earthquake claimed in total 12 lives plus a thirteenth which died due to earthquake induced shock. About 160 people were injured out of which 100-120 people sustained serious injury needing hospitalization, around 1,000 were made homeless.

In the USGS EXPO-CAT database it is estimated that during this earthquake 206,265 people were exposed to intensity VII or higher, of which about 95% were in urban areas.

Concerning the building stock, about 40,000-50,000 buildings including 25,000-40,000 homes were damaged (most of the damaged occurred to non-structural components) and 300 had to be demolished.

Munich Re estimate an overall economic loss of 1.2 billion USD out of which 670 million USD were insured losses. The overall economic loss represented 0.4% of the Australian GDP in 1989.

The Bureau of Transport Economics in 2001 estimated the economic impact of this earthquake at nearly 3.2 billion USD. This latter estimation seems to overrate the real economic impact.

The Insurance Disaster Response Organisation (IDRO) in 2002 estimated a value for the insured loss of 684 million USD, close to those provided by the Munich Re.

Overview data
Loss: Human Casualty
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People injured
160
number
People injured: source
http://www.emknowledge.gov.au/resource/?id=58
People injured: comment

from the EMA database


People seriously injured
110
number
People seriously injured: source
R.E. Melchers, 1990, Newcastle Earthquake Study, The Institution of Engineers, Australia.
People seriously injured: status
Approximate

People missing: status
N/A

People killed
13
number
People killed: source
Geoscience Australia; R.E. Melchers, 1990, NEWCASTLE EARTHQUAKE STUDY, The Institution of Engineers, Australia.
People killed: comment

Incl. 1 death due to shock. 9 died when the roof of the Newcastle Workers Club collapsed, trapping several more that were pulled out alive. 3 died due when trapped under falling awnings in Beaumont Street.


People killed due to ground shaking
12
number
People killed due to ground shaking: source
Geoscience Australia; R.E. Melchers, 1990, NEWCASTLE EARTHQUAKE STUDY, The Institution of Engineers, Australia.

People dying post catastrophe due to shaking
1
number
People dying post catastrophe due to shaking: source
Geoscience Australia; R.E. Melchers, 1990, Newcastle Earthquake Study, The Institution of Engineers, Australia.
People dying post catastrophe due to shaking: comment

1 death due to shock


People missing due to tsunami
0
number
People killed due to tsunami
0
number
People missing due to fire following
0
number
People killed due to fire following
0
number
People missing due to slope failures
0
number
People killed due to slope failures
0
number
Loss: Building damage
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hide
Total number of buildings destroyed by shaking
290
number
Total number of buildings destroyed by shaking: source
R.E. Melchers, 1990, Newcastle Earthquake Study, The Institution of Engineers, Australia.
Total number of buildings destroyed by shaking: comment

90 buildings were approved for full demolition, 200 for partial demolition. In addition some buildings were demolished without permit in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake.


Number of buildings damaged by shaking
38000
number
Number of buildings damaged by shaking: source
http://www.ga.gov.au/hazards/earthquakes/earthquake-basics/historic.html
Number of buildings damaged by shaking: comment

Out of the 38,000 damaged buildings there were: circa 35,000 homes, 147 schools, and circa 3,000 commercial and other types of buildings.

The EM-DAT database reports 50,000 damaged buildings.

Number of buildings damaged by shaking: status
Approximate

Number of dwellings destroyed by shaking
100
number
Number of dwellings destroyed by shaking: source
Wikipedia
Number of dwellings destroyed by shaking: status
Greater than

Number of dwellings damaged by shaking
35000
number
Number of dwellings damaged by shaking: source
http://www.ga.gov.au/hazards/earthquakes/earthquake-basics/historic.html
Number of dwellings damaged by shaking: comment

10,000 of the damaged homes had significant damage (costing more than 1,000 Australian $). 42 of the damaged schools had structural damage (Wikipedia article, no reference, visited on Nov. 27, 2013).

Number of dwellings damaged by shaking: status
Approximate

Loss: Socioeconomic
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People homeless
1000
number
People homeless: source
http://www.newcastle.nsw.gov.au/about_newcastle/history_and_heritage/earthquake; http://www.emknowledge.gov.au/resource/?id=58
People homeless: comment

300-400 people in the immediate aftermath of the event (Geoscience Australia)

People homeless: status
Approximate

Direct economic loss
530
million US$
Direct economic loss: source
http://www.munichre.com/app_pages/www/@res/pdf/media_relations/company_news/2011/natcat_earthquakes_world_march2011_en.pdf
Direct economic loss: comment

Munich Re reports 1.2 billion US$ overall loss, incl. 670 million US$ in insured losses. The insured losses are not included here, as they are shown under the insured loss field.

In addition, the Bureau of Transport Economics in 2001 estimated the economic impact at 3.175 billion US$ (4 billion Au$) of which 795 million US$ (1 billion Au$) were insured losses. This estimation probably overrates the real damage (Walker G.: Comparison of the Impacts of Cyclone Tracy and the Newcastle Earthquake on the Australian Building and Insurance Industries. 2009 Australian Earthquake Engineering Conference).


Indirect economic loss: status
N/A

Insured loss
670
million US$
Insured loss: source
Munich Re
Insured loss: comment

The Bureau of Transport Economics in 2001 estimated the insured losses at 1 billion Au$ (795 million US$).

Demographics
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hide
Total number of buildings
102000
number
Total number of buildings: source
M. Leonard, D. Robinson, T. Allen, J. Schneider, D. Clark, T. Dhu, D. Burbidge (2007), Toward a better model of earthquake hazard in AustraliaGeological Society of America Special Papers, 2007, 425, p. 263-283.
Total number of buildings: comment

It refers to buildings in the affected region. In addition T.D. Jones, G. Fulford, N. Corby, J. Schneider, M. Edwards (2003), Probabilistic earthquake risk assessment of Newcastle and Lake Macquarie, Australia: Part 2 – Earthquake vulnerability and risk. Pacific Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Christchurch, estimate 120,000 buildings in the affected region.