AN earthquake that rocked Gladstone early Monday morning may have come as a shock to residents, but more earthquakes will rattle the state, experts say.
Senior seismologist Dr Jonathan Bathgate from Geoscience Australia said this was the most active area in Queensland for earthquakes because it was close to a local fault line.
"Australia is moving 7cm north per year," Dr Bathgate said.
"Stresses build up in the ground and when they exceed the strength of the rocks that stress is released causing movement along the fault lines."
The quake originated between 20km-30km north east of Eidsvold, but was felt within a 187km radius, including Gladstone, about 2am yesterday.
The main shock had a magnitude of 5.1 and an aftershock of 2.9.
"We've only really been able to monitor the earthquakes since the mid 1900s," Dr Bathgate said.
"But we know this area has a relatively large history of earthquakes - the largest happening near Gayndah in 1883 which we estimate had a magnitude of 5.9."
Dr Bathgate said scientists could use the latest data to better determine where the next earthquake would occur.
"We have a hazard map that shows where they have occurred before," he said.
"This map shows that Gladstone and inland are more active than anywhere else in Queensland."
Geoscience Australia has sent two men to the epicentre site from Canberra, equipped with portable seismometers.
Seismologist Hugh Glanville said the four portable kits would be planted around the epicentre in Eidsvold to best calculate the events.
They would monitor whether there were more aftershocks, he said.
Geoscience Australia received more than 1000 reports from across Queensland after the quake.
"It has been felt really widely - more than 200km away north up to Rockhampton and south to Brisbane," Mr Glanville said.
"There have been at least 10 aftershocks measured at this stage, which is quite common for an earthquake of this size."
Central Queensland Seismic Research Group leader Mike Turnbull said he believed the magnitude of the quake was much higher.
"According to Kevin McCue's research... a 5.1-magnitude earthquake should only be felt at a 150km radius," he said.
"If this had occurred in the centre of Brisbane it would have been a different story."
"It was a Newcastle-type of earthquake."
Earthquakes measuring over 5 magnitude in Qld:
- 28 August 1883 at 2.59am - 5.6 magnitude near Gayndah
- 8 December 1913 at 11.5pm - 5.7 magnitude near Charters Towers
- 6 June 1918 at 4.14am - 6.0 magnitude off the coast of Gladstone
- 6 June 1918 at 5.20am - 5.7 magnitude off the coast of Gladstone
- 2 April 1935 at 11.32am - 5.5 magnitude at Gayndah
- 19 September 1954 at 8.37pm - 5.3 magnitude at St George
- 3 June 1965 at 7.59am - 5.3 magnitude north of Goondiwindi
- 24 December 1974 at 2.25am - 5.1 magnitude in the Coral Sea
- 29 November 1978 at 4.33am - 5.2 magnitude at Heron Island
- 16 April 2011 at 3.31pm - 5.3 magnitude near Bowen
- 16 February 2015 at 1.57am - 5.1 magnitude near Eidsvold
Source: Geoscience Australia Earthquakes