The magnitude 5.0 earthquake that rocked the Goldfields this morning was the biggest one to hit the area since records began in 1900, according to Geosciences Australia.
Seismologist David Jepsen said the quake was large by Australian standards and would have caused extensive, widespread damage in the area.
The tremors were felt several kilometres away from the epicentre, which was 10km south-west of Kalgoorlie.
"It is a large earthquake for Australia and events of this size occur once every year on average. It's been several years since we have had something like this in Australia,' Mr Jepsen said.
The seismologist explained how the earthquake was caused by the shifting tectonic plates beneath Australia.
"Australia is moving north-east up towards the Eur-Asia and Pacific plates. Also we have got the load of the continent itself. Due to gravity these two forces, once they exceed greater than the strength of the rock in the area, you can get ruptures. This is why we can't pinpoint exactly where it's going to happen," he said.
Mr Jepsen said there was a high possibility of aftershocks, although they would not be as strong as the first quake, perhaps around magnitude three.
He added that the evacuation of the Superpit was a necessary safety precaution.
"You don't know what's happened underground in the mine," he said.
Mr Jepsen said, given the strength of the earthquake, it was lucky there had been no reports of serious injuries so far.
"It's great that if you have balconies and roofs collapsing no-one has been injured. It's lucky with the time it occurred," he said.He said many people would have been affected by paintings and pictures falling off walls, loose objects being broken and cracks in walls within 10km of the epicentre.
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