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You along with many others may have felt tremors, watched items rattling in your house or noticed birds squawking on Sunday morning after an earthquake of 5 on the Richter Scale in Gnowangerup

This prompts us to remind you of the existence of the Geophysical Observatory that operated here in Mundaring from 1959 to 2000.

In 1919 scientists travelled from America to find a suitable spot for a Magnetic Observatory. They settled on a site at Watheroo 225klms north of Perth. They were investigating the Earth’s magnetic field. In 1947 the Carnegie Institution gifted Watheroo Magnetic Observatory to the Australian Government and Australian staff were required to operate it. However, the site was isolated and living conditions were primitive and so staff were difficult to find and keep.

Mundaring Geophysical Observatory

The Mundaring Geophysical Observatory replaced the Watheroo Magnetic Observatory on 18th March 1959. The main functions of the Observatory were the collection and distribution of basic data in disciplines of geomagnetism, seismology, and ionospheric physics, and the application of this data to investigate all local and regional phenomena. There were two installations – Gnangara and Mundaring. Gnangara became the magnetic recording station while Mundaring became the main office and the seismological and ionospheric recording station.

Seismography Recording Console

When the Observatory was closed, many of the instruments were donated to Mundaring & Hills Historical Society. The instruments range from a 1905 magnetograph recorder, first used at the Magnetic Observatory established at Watheroo in 1919 by the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institute of Washington, to a Benioff Seismometer that was still used at the Observatory when it closed in 2000. We are lucky to be the custodians of these beautifully crafted instruments.

One of the biggest earthquakes that the observatory would have recorded was the Meckering Earthquake in1968.

Entrance to Seismic Vault at Mundaring Weir on a granite base and covered with earth to reduce noise

Crack across the landscape after the earthquake in Meckering

Remains of St Peters Church in Meckering


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