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Gallery 3

Pipe Wrench

Close up of twisted metal from a large gas pipe.
a steel pipe bent and with a large whole in the side of the pipe.

A gas pipe bent and split by an earthquake at Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.

How it works

A section of damaged gas pipe shows the strength of a 6.6 magnitude earthquake.

Things to try or ask around the exhibit

How much force would be needed to twist the pipe?

Background

This steel pipe was part of the pipeline that carried gas from Amadeus Basin to Tennant Creek, Katherine and Darwin. It was damaged in an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.6 on Friday 22 January 1988. This is the largest onshore earthquake measured in Australia since official record keeping began in the late 1800's.

This section of pipeline was located where one of the main faults occurred. The pipe curved and collapsed but did not break due to its special construction. The hole in the pipe is where metal was removed for testing after the earthquake.

Finding the science in your world

During an earthquake, buildings collapse, but essential services such as water, electricity and sewerage are usually disrupted, because seismic waves also damage pipelines under and along the ground, or suspended in the air.