Accelerograph recordings of the Musa earthquake, 16 September, 1972

  • B. Gaull Port Moresby Geophysics Observatory, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea


On 16 September, 1972 at 04 15 09.8 UT an earthquake of magnitude ML 5.0 occurred in southeast Papua within about 20 km of a proposed dam site on the Musa River. The earthquake triggered two accelerographs, Musa A and Musa B, one at the crest and one at the base of the dam site. The peak ground accelerations recorded by the accelerographs were 1.85 m/s2 and 0.39 m/s2 respectively; the peak ground velocities were 87 mm/s and 2.0 mm/s; and the corresponding mean periods of the ground motion were about 0.23 and 0.04 s.

The difference in the nature of the accelerograms is attributed to
the difference in the geological and topographical settings of the accelerograph sites. The upper site has an elevation of 406 m and consists of about 60 m of weathered sediments overlying fresh ultramafics. The lower site has an elevation of 112 m and consists of an outcrop of the ultramafic complex.


Bishop, I. D., Pollock, E. J. and Pettifer, G. R. (in prep.), "Musa River hydro-electric-scheme seismic survey, P.N.G., 1970", Bur. Miner. Resour. Aust. Rec. (unpubl.).

Davis, L. L., and West, L. R. (1973), "Observed effects of topography on ground motion", Bull. seism. Soc. Amer. 63, 283-98.

Macias, L. F. (1971), "Geology of the Musa Gorge dam site area. Eastern Papua", Geological Survey of Papua New Guinea Note on Investigation, 71-008.

Madera, G. A. (1970), "Fundamental period and amplification of peak acceleration in layered systems", Dept. Civ. Eng., Massachusetts Inst, of Tech. Rpt. No. R69-15, Soils Publ. No. 260.

How to Cite
Gaull, B. (1976). Accelerograph recordings of the Musa earthquake, 16 September, 1972. Bulletin of the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, 9(2), 115-121.