Earthquake Collection

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At 10.27am on Thursday, 28 December 1989, Newcastle was devastated by an ML 5.6 (Richter magnitude) earthquake. This was one of the most serious natural disasters in Australia's history.

Facts and figures

  • The earthquake claimed 13 lives: 9 people died at the Newcastle Workers Club, 3 people were killed in Beaumont Street Hamilton, and one person died of shock
  • 160 people were hospitalised
  • 50,000 buildings were damaged (approximately 40,000 of these were homes)
  • 300 buildings were demolished
  • 300,000 people were affected and 1,000 were made homeless
  • It left a damage bill estimated to be about $4 billion
  • The effects were felt over an area of about 200,000 sq. km, with isolated reports of movement up to 800km from Newcastle
  • Damage to buildings and facilities occurred within a 9000 sq. km region
  • The earthquake epicentre was at Boolaroo
  • One aftershock (M 2.1) was recorded on 29 December 1989

Newcastle Earthquake Database

The Newcastle Earthquake Database is a valuable resource which records the events, the response, and the city's renewal following the 1989 earthquake. There are 3,600 bibliographic records with abstracts available on the database. Of these, 2800 records are available as electronic full-text records, digitised images, and sound and video files.

Subjects covered in the Newcastle Earthquake Database include:

  • Disaster management
  • Earthquake engineering
  • Economic impact
  • Geological issues
  • Health issues
  • Heritage issues
  • Insurance
  • Lifeline services
  • Psychological impact
  • Recovery and renewal
  • Seismology
  • Social and welfare services

Information sources in the database include:

  • Archival records
  • Audio recordings
  • Books
  • Conference papers
  • Journal articles
  • Literary works
  • Newspaper articles
  • Oral history
  • Pamphlets
  • Photographs
  • Reports
  • Research papers
  • Theses
  • Video recordings