Something is amiss in Queensland and Australians want to know what could be the cause and should they be worried. What’s amiss are mysterious bright flashes and unexplained loud booms in the city of Bundaberg and a sudden series of eight earthquakes reaching up to magnitude 5.7 in a concentrated area of Queensland. What’s causing the flashes, booms and quakes? No one knows for sure. Should they be worried? The answer to that question is always “Yes!”
The bright flashes over Bundaberg occurred on August 4th. One witness reported that her house shook right after she heard a loud bang at about 8:30 pm. She described it as a “dull thump” and went outside where she saw a “huge fire” coming from the direction of Bundaberg. Another witness saw a “flash of light” in the northern sky at 10:30 pm, but heard no booms. Local police and fire officials reported no fires or unusual noises. Some burnt flares were found nearby but they couldn’t have caused the house-shaking boom. A spokesperson for at Alloway Observatory said there was no known meteor activity that night and it’s too early for the mid-August Perseid meteor shower. So what caused the flashes and booms?
Could they be related to the swarm of earthquakes? The concentration of seismic activity began on July 30th in an area 120 km (75 miles) east of Fraser Island. The first quake hit at 9:41 am and registered a 5.3 magnitude. There were eight quakes in less that three days, with the largest being a 5.7 magnitude (equivalent to 15 atomic bombs) on the afternoon of August 1st. That’s close to Queensland’s record 6.0 quake of 1918.
Seismologist Dr. Andrea Thom blames the earthquakes on the collision between the Australian and Pacific plates and warns there will probably be more. These coastal quakes can cause tsunamis if they reach a magnitude of 6.5. That plus the fact that earthquake swarms are extremely rare in Queensland is a cause for serious concern.