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You've Never Heard Of The Biggest Earthquake In Australia

But the locals remember it well.

12/05/2016 12:42 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:52 PM AEST
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Alamy
Tennant Creek's famous Devil's marbles weren't rattled by an earthquake.

The biggest earthquake in Australia's recorded history struck Tennant Creek a few minutes past 10am.

"The noise was horrendous," tour guide Nigel Skelton told The Huffington Post Australia.

"We'd just opened the doors at the library where I was working at the time and all the ceiling tiles started cracking and grinding against each other.

"I told everyone to get outside where the roof can't fall on you. There was a regular customer who was in her 70s and she was slowly making her way towards the door.

"She said to me 'I've had a good innings' but there I was behind her thinking, 'well I haven't yet! Let's move!'."

If you've never heard the 'survival' stories from the Tennant Creek, NT, earthquake of 1988, you're not alone.

No one was hurt, no buildings fell and its famous Devil's Marbles rock formation still stand.

Up until this morning, it wasn't even considered the worst earthquake since records began in the 1800s.

Genevieve Vallee / Alamy
Tennant Creek Telegraph Station still stands.

The 6.6 magnitude earthquake was jettisoned to the number one spot by national geological survey body Geoscience Australia as part of a revision of the magnitudes of Australia's historical earthquakes.

This project aimed to revise historic earthquake measurements to more accurately reflect their true size based on modern measurements -- and our propensity to exaggerate quakes that weren't officially measured.

Before this morning, the biggest earthquake in record-keeping history was the 1941 Meeberrie, WA earthquake, which was downgraded from 7.2 magnitude to 6.3.

Senior seismologist Spiro Spiliopoulos said it came down to verifying witness accounts.

"It's quite a common understanding amongst seismologists that this earthquake, and others of the time, may have been overestimated and are in fact considerably smaller than historically reported", Spiliopoulos said in a statement.

"There were minimal recordings of the Meeberrie earthquake given its remote location and the technology available in 1941.

"Seismologists at the time resorted to calculating the size of the earthquake primarily by deciphering entries in the local homestead owner's diary."

Of the new, revised 10 biggest earthquakes, three were in Tennant Creek.

Geoscience Australia
Geoscience Australia's top 10 Australian earethquakes.

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