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Report by Dr Valentina Koschatzky, Dr James O’Brien, Prof. Paul Somerville for Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC. 

Despite its low seismic activity, Australia is more vulnerable to earthquakes than one would expect due to the concentration of population and the large stock of buildings which are structurally unable to withstand even moderate seismic shaking. This was demonstrated by the 1989 M5.6 Newcastle earthquake, one of the costliest natural disasters in Australia, despite its low magnitude. One question elicited by these circumstances is: what would happen if one of Australia’s main cities were hit by an earthquake similar to the Newcastle earthquake? An example of a near miss is the 1954 M5.6 Adelaide earthquake, whose epicentre, far from developed areas at the time, would lie in densely developed areas were it to occur today. Providing realistic estimates for natural disaster scenarios is essential for emergency managers. A systematic approach to developing such scenarios can reveal blind spots and vulnerabilities in planning. Following the Adelaide Scenario delivered in 2015 we now look into a series of realistic disaster earthquake scenarios for the city of Melbourne.

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