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Queensland dusts off tsunami plans -

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SHANE MCLEOD: Authorities in Queensland have been keeping a close eye on the quake near Vanuatu.

The tsunami warnings that followed stretched all the way to the Queensland coast, with fears a wave
could strike the Great Barrier Reef and offshore islands.

Port authorities dusted off evacuation plans before the watch was cancelled mid-morning.

Our reporter Annie Guest spoke to seismologist Mike Turnbull from the Central Queensland
University.

MIKE TURNBULL: Being above magnitude seven, they have the propensity to cause a tsunami.
Fortunately it looks as if they haven't done so.

ANNIE GUEST: Well indeed, warnings and watch alerts were put out and cancelled in Queensland and
then a general warning across Australia and the Pacific and New Zealand. Can you just rate those
different alerts for us?

MIKE TURNBULL: There's a number of alerts ranging from actively a tsunami is coming, that you need
to evacuate, through to there could be a tsunami so just keep your eye on the news and your ear on
the radio to find out what's happening.

ANNIE GUEST: And essentially, that was the latter, that is was a downgrading.

MIKE TURNBULL: Yeah. It was the latter. There could have been a tsunami, keep your eye out, but as
it turned out there is no tsunami, so pretty much now the danger is passed.

ANNIE GUEST: Yes, now that some hours have passed, can you categorically rule out a tsunami
happening?

MIKE TURNBULL: I'm pretty certain that we can say there is no tsunami danger from this one for the
Australian coastline. If there was a tsunami danger from this, the Vanuatu Islands and the Solomon
Islands would have had inundation within a quarter-of-an-hour to half-an-hour after when the
earthquake's occurred.

ANNIE GUEST: What is the relationship between this activity this morning and that that we've seen
in the region in recent times?

MIKE TURNBULL: There seems to be three things going on. We've had the activity over near Samoa last
week, which was quickly followed by activity over underneath the Sumatran Islands. Those two events
are independent of one another and coincidental.

ANNIE GUEST: So seismologists remain confident that there's no relationship between the Indonesian
quake and the rest and it's just a terrible coincidence?

MIKE TURNBULL: Yes. Yes. There's no relationship between those two. This one that occurred this
morning north of Vanuatu, it's still quite considerably further west of the Samoan earthquake, but
may have some connection to the Samoan earthquake.

ANNIE GUEST: And is there any way of predicting where and when the next earthquakes will be and
what the severity could be?

MIKE TURNBULL: No, unfortunately there's no way of predicting where or when the next big earthquake
in the area might occur. What we do know, however, is that throughout the north of Australia and
around through the Samoan area down to New Zealand, around about 94 per cent of the earth's
earthquakes occur in that area.

We've had large and very devastating earthquakes in the past. We will have those sorts of things
into the future, we just don't know where or when.

SHANE MCLEOD: Seismologist Mike Turnbull from the Central Queensland University, speaking to Annie
Guest.