The Tulbagh Earthquake
The Tulbagh Earthquake is recognised as the most destructive earthquake in South African history. It struck the Ceres area at 22H03 in the evening on the 29th of September 1969. The duration of the main shock was 15 seconds. It was felt as far as Durban which is situated over 1175km away from Tulbagh, Western Cape.
The most severe aftershock occurred on the 14th of April 1970. It reached a magnitude of 5.7 on the Richter scale. I wasn’t even born at the time but am aware of the impact it had on the community and devastation it caused. This disaster branded our region as an Earthquake prone area.
The size and temporal spacing of the aftershocks indicated an earthquake “swarm”. The tremors suggest a shallow tectonic failure along the ancient Saron-Groenhof contour. The earthquake resulted from a displacement of 26cm over a 20km length.
During the earthquake, even well-constructed brick houses were extensively damaged. Many adobe-type buildings were completely destroyed. Countless lost their lives, their homes and their loved ones. Fortunately, none of the dams in the area collapsed although some of the walls cracked.
The development of new technologies and the dedication of hardworking Municipal Officials at Witzenberg Municipality in Ceres, helps us prepare for a natural disaster. It cannot be prevented but we can be prepared.