SA earthquake was mine-related

The Council for Geoscience has confirmed the quake is the largest mine-related seismic event ever recorded.

FILE: The Council for Geoscience has confirmed the Orkney earthquake is the largest mine-related seismic event ever recorded. Picture: Sxc.hu.

PRETORIA - The Council for Geoscience South Africa has confirmed the Orkney earthquake on 5 August is now the largest mine-related seismic event ever recorded in South Africa.

This emerged at a Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) seminar on earthquakes hosted in Pretoria.

The tremor was centred in Orkney, a town situated around 120 kilometres southwest of Johannesburg with a high concentration of deep gold mines.

A 31-year-old man lost his life after a wall collapsed on him in a mining village near Orkney.

A total of 600 homes in the Khuma township, near the epicentre, were severely damaged and at least 34 miners were injured.

Residents in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, the Free State and as far as Botswana felt it.

The council's Michelle Grobbelaar says the earthquake measured at a 5.5 magnitude, larger than the 5.3 Stilfontein quake of 2005.

She says the event took place at about five kilometres below the surface.

Wits University seismologist professor Ray Durrheim says seismic events will continue for as long as mining takes place.

"There are people who are trained to deal with earthquakes but should we get one of these rare events, our resources could be overwhelmed."

He says disaster management agencies must include earthquakes in their planning.