A STUDY of earthquakes in the Hunter has assessed the region to be at moderate risk of experiencing future tremors.
Australian scientists have developed new detailed maps showing earthquake hot spots that will help builders and engineers better-plan where and how they build structures.
The National Earthquake Hazard Map uses historical data and statistics to develop a forecast of how likely earthquakes are in different parts of the country.
Geoscience Australia senior seismologist Clive Collins said the data for Newcastle took account of the 1989 earthquake.
It also took account of similar-sized events as far back as 1825.
The region’s rating hovers around 0.05 to 0.06 of the value of gravity, reflecting the force of ground shaking in a tremor.
Mr Collins said the 1989 earthquake, which killed 13 people and left a damage bill estimated at more than $4billion, was the clearest example of the region’s seismic character.
‘‘There has been quite a long history of that  size earthquake in the Newcastle area,’’ Mr Collins said.
‘‘The hazard in that area is higher than in other cities like in Sydney, where there has been no history of earthquakes,’’ Mr Collins added.
Resources Minister Martin Ferguson said the Geoscience Australia research could inform construction industries about the likelihood of an earthquake happening in certain areas of the country.
‘‘Although these maps do not enable us to predict earthquakes, they will allow engineers and planners to design and locate buildings and infrastructure so as to better protect our communities,’’ Mr Ferguson said.
Mr Ferguson said the urban planners, insurers and emergency managers could also access the underlying models and data sets to undertake more detailed analysis.
The maps can be viewed at online at www.ga.gov.au/hazards/earthquakes/reports.html.