News & Insights

5.9 Magnitude Melbourne Earthquake – what is the impact?

Yesterday’s earthquake rocked the state of Victoria, with the epicentre near the rural town of Mansfield, 128 km northeast of Melbourne. This was Victoria’s biggest earthquake on record. Australia’s largest recorded earthquake was in 1988 at Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, with an estimated magnitude of 6.6, occurring in a sparsely populated area and resulted in damage to a major gas pipeline. The 1989 earthquake in Newcastle, measuring 5.6 on the richter scale, was one of Australia’s most serious disasters, causing $4billion in damage.

Like everyone, the earthquake caught Jasmin Salandanan, Associate Civil Structural Engineer at Cardno, by surprise.

“Coming from New Zealand where earthquakes are the norm and the structural design is heavily earthquake influenced, I think yesterday’s event could be a game-changer for us as bridge engineers here in Australia.” says Jasmin.

With potential widespread structural damage following the earthquake, the demand for structural engineers is set to increase significantly for performance assessments and also to develop earthquake-resistant structures.

With a 25-year career spanning across Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines, Jasmin has extensive experience not only in the design of new bridges but also seismic and live load assessments and strengthening of existing bridges.

Jasmin says “Do we feel the need to revisit our bridge design philosophy? Are we confident that we have earthquake-resistant designs? Are we now ready to adopt capacity design? These questions are not for us alone to answer. There are many other factors to consider which may entail structural code changes, Territorial Authority mandates, Asset owner’s directives among others."

"For our existing bridge structures, how well did they perform after this powerful earthquake? Do they need to be re-inspected to make sure they remain structurally sound and fit for purpose? Do they need a specific structural assessment with consideration of more in-depth seismic action? Do they need a site-specific earthquake hazard assessment?"

"These are just some of the questions we may have to ask ourselves or the asset’s owners.

Going forward what are the next steps?" comments Jasmin.

For more information contact:

Jasmin Salandanan
Associate Civil Structural Engineer