Last week expeditioners here at Macca got the opportunity to put into practice one of the regular drills that we train for here on the island, the tsunami drill.
At 20:10 on Thursday evening the first smaller quake hit, gaining the attention of expeditioners, then three minutes later the larger 6.9 magnitude quake hit. This was enough to launch everyone into action, with our field training officer Urs, quickly hitting the button, triggering the tsunami warning alarm. Running outside it was soon evident that this one had the attention of all, and instincts kicked in with people grabbing their survival bags and making for higher ground.
With everyone mustered, the emergency response plan kicked in and a call went out to account for both field parties, checking their status and passing on the need to possibly move to higher ground, which had already been anticipated. Shortly after, a call went through to the AAD emergency contact officer in Hobart to let them know everyone was accounted for.
Some time later the tsunami warning was cancelled and all were able to make their way back down to asses the damage. Luckily the station hadn’t suffered any significant structural damage, however the shaking had caused quite a mess in many buildings, with the unfortunate loss of two bottles of wine, one bottle of 12-year-old scotch and ½ a bottle of bourbon, which will be sorely missed.
Earthquakes here are not an unusual occurrence, with Macquarie Island located approximately 1600 km to the southeast of Tasmania, in an environment that is tectonically volatile, as it sits on the boundary between the Australasian and Pacific plates. The strongest recorded at Macca was in 1989, at a magnitude of 8.2, with the next strongest being recorded in 2004, at 8.1 magnitude.
It was great to see that the training drills had paid off, with everyone moving in a controlled, unpanicked fashion up to muster. As the saying goes “slow is smooth and smooth is fast”.
Its hearting to know that the 73-year-old station can still handle a good shake.......and the expos can too.