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Michael Lloyd Turnbull

Lead Earthquake Seismologist, CQUniversity Australia

Mike was born at an early age at the Charleville Base Hospital. He spent most of his youth wandering up and down the Warrego River swimming and having mud fights with his brothers and other friends.

Mike attended Charleville State School and got a Queensland State Government scholarship to go on to Grade 8.

After attending Charleville State High School, completing Grade 10, and receiving a Junior Leaving Certificate, Mike did a three year traineeship with the Postmaster General's Department to become a Telecommunications Technician. Mike taught himself calculus so that he could commence a two year "correspondence" (i.e. external) course to qualify as a Telecommunications Technical Officer. He worked for 8 years at the Charleville Telephone Exchange performing maintenance of telephone, telegraph, radio, long line terminal equipment, underground copper transmission media and pole-mounted long-line transmission media.

Mike worked for 4 years in Canberra on long-line coaxial and microwave terminal equipment, and as a multi-story telecommunications cabling design consultant.

Following a family death Mike moved back to Charleville for 4 years. He spent most of the next few years traveling around western Queensland towns relieving the senior technical positions when the incumbents went on leave, and worked for 6 months at Winton as the technical officer in charge.

In 1983 Mike transferred to Brisbane, to a specialist transmission media testing unit. He spent 6 years traveling around Queensland testing transmission media of all types including optical fibre. Mike wrote the first fibre optic test manual used throughout Australia within Telecom Australia. He transferred to a specialist data transmission equipment unit in 1986, and spent 5 years as a national data transmission specialist.

During 3 of those 5 years he participated as a team member designing Telecom's Corporate database, Measurements module.

In 1991 Mike completed his BAppSc degree at QUT with major in Physics and minor in Mathematics. He resigned from Telecom & worked for 2 years in a Photometric laboratory at QUT.

1994 was spent at Gin Gin, working for Paul Keating and receiving too much pay for it. In 1995 he started work at the Bundaberg campus of Central Queensland University as a tutor in Information Technology subjects. Within 3 years he was advanced to Lecturer, teaching in computer software design and implementation, and researching in earthquake engineering. As well as his teaching and research activities he was, in penance of his many sins, appointed as the Sub-Dean of the Faculty of Maths and Science, which later became the Faculty of Business and informatics, and then the Faculty of Informatics and Communication.

Mike completed a Master of Applied Science (Seismology) in May 2001 through Central Queensland University. He didn't complete an aborted Graduate Diploma of Information Technology (Software).

In 2002 Mike established the Central Queensland Seismology Research Group, under the auspices of the then Faculty of Informatics and Communication of Central Queensland University (CQU), with himself as the Lead Seismologist and Kevin McCue as the expert Oversighting Seismologist. In 2003 CQSRG sponsored John Fischera, an undergraduate Physics student, by successfully guiding him to conduct a Shaking Vulnerability survey of the Hervey Bay area. The affiliation with CQUniversity continued until 2013, when, due to a divergence in academic focus, CQSRG continued operations independent of CQUniversity.

Mike resigned as Lecturer at the end of January 2006. He received a 3 year appointment from the CQU Vice Chancellor as an Adjunct Research Fellow, attached to the Faculty of Business and informatics at the Bundaberg Campus. He didn't like retirement. 2006 to July 2007 went by with casual lecturing at Bundaberg and researching in earthquake engineering.

In July 2007 Mike was appointed as Research Assistant at the research centre for Process Engineering and Light Metals (PELM) at the Gladstone campus of CQU.

In July 2008 he was appointed as Associate Lecturer at the Gladstone campus of CQU teaching first and second year engineering students basic engineering skills and the fundamentals of project management; concurrently taking a lead role in the development of an electronic sensor for micrometre inclusions in molten aluminium.

He resigned these positions in January 2009.

In January 2009 his appointment as Adjunct Research Fellow at the Bundaberg campus of CQU was extended until January 2012. He continue conducting seismology research in the Central Queensland region, and teaching on a casual basis at the Bundaberg Campus of CQU. In 2016 Mike's staff appointment as Adjunct Research Fellow at CQUniversity Australia was extended until 2019 with the School of Engineering and Technology.

In March 2009 Mike started up a small mowing business - "Four Seasons Mowing & Home Help". The incentive for doing so was partly to provide a supplementary income, but largely because he enjoy working outside and meeting people. Getting his head around the tax aspects was a failed challenge.

In late 2009 Mike gained licencing as an oversized vehicle Pilot/Escort. He loved driving around Queensland and New South Wales in front of, or behind, large "trucks on steroids" carrying concrete culverts for Curragh Mine, bridge girders for road-works, high voltage power line poles, and the like.

This all finished in July 2010 when Mike almost severed his left index finger at the MCP joint with an axe ... don't ask. By the time that had been reattached with two titanium screws and sufficiently healed for functional use he had been away from piloting for several months, and had lost the networking he had spent the past year establishing.

Mike needed an income, so in Feb 2011 he took up a position with the Gladstone Area Group Apprentices Limited (GAGAL) as an Apprentice Electrical Fitter/Mechanic. He was, at that stage, probably the oldest apprentice electrician in Australia. He moved a caravan to Gladstone and lived there during the week days. He would travel home on the weekends, or his wife would sometimes come up to Gladstone and stay for a week or two. With recognised previous learning (RPL) he received credit for about half of the training requirements. By the end of 2012 he had finished all of his TAFE training. He completed his apprenticeship in April 2013, and became a licensed Electrical Fitter/Mechanic in Queensland, and Western Australia.

Applying for electrical work throughout Australia over the next two years, Mike discovered that no one wanted to employ a 63 year old electrician who had just finished his apprenticeship, despite him having more relevant qualifications and experience than most other long-term electricians half his age.

When Mike turned 65 he applied for and received an Australian Age Pension - it used to be called the "Old" age Pension - don't you just love the new euphemistic way of referring to it?

Despite his "retirement" Mike continues to actively pursue his love of researching the seismicity of the Central Queensland region.

Listen to an hour long conversation I had with Richard Fidler on Local Radio ABC throughout Queensland and New South Wales.


  • –present
    Lead Earthquake Seismologist, Central Queensland Seismology Research Group
  • 2006–present
    Adjunct Research Fellow, CQUniversity Australia


  • 2002 
    Faculty of Science and Engineering, Central Queensland University, Master of Applied Science
  • 1991 
    Queensland University of Technology, Bachelor of Applied Science (Distinction)


  • 2016
    Australian Seismological Report 2015, Record 2016/26. Geoscience Australia, Canberra. Available online at
  • 2015
    Observations on the 2015 February ML 5.0 and July ML 5.4 Central Queensland Earthquake Sequences, Proceedings of the Tenth Pacific Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Paper 139, Sydney, Australia, 6-8 November 2015.
  • 2008
    Relative seismic shaking vulnerability microzonation using an adaptation of the Nakamura horizontal to vertical spectral ratio method, Journal of Earth System Science, vol. 117, no. S2, 2008, pp.879-895, DOI 10.1007/s12040-008-0074-2.
  • 2006
    Validation of using Gumbel Probability Plotting to estimate Gutenberg-Richter seismicity parameters, Proceedings of the AEES 2006 Conference, pp127 to 135, Canberra, A.C.T., November 2006, ISBN 0-646-46921-5.
  • 2006
    Estimation of Gutenberg-Richter seismicity parameters for the Bundaberg region using Piecewise Extended Gumbel Analysis, Proceedings of the AEES 2006 Conference, pp275 to 280, Canberra, A.C.T., November 2006, ISBN 0-646-46921-5.
  • 2005
    Dynamic Structural Analysis of a High-Rise Building Using Simulated Intra-Plate Earthquake: Case study for Queensland, Proceedings of the AEES 2005 Conference, Paper 13, pp13-0 to 13-7, Albury, New South Wales, November 2005, ISBN 0 7340 3592 6.
  • 2003
    Considerations for online course delivery from educators' perspective, International Conference on Education and Information Systems: Technologies and Applications, Orlando, Florida, USA, 31 July-2 August, 2003, pp. 439-442.
  • 2003
    Testing the Extensibility of an Earthquake Vulnerability Microzonation Methodology by Application at Bargara, Queensland, Proceedings of the 2003 Pacific Conference on Earthquake Engineering, Paper 10, pp10-1 to 10-7, Christchurch, New Zealand, February 2003, ISBN 0 473 09372 3
  • 2003
    A Relative Seismic Vulnerability Analysis of Hervey Bay City, Queensland, Proceedings of the AEES 2003 Conference, Paper 7, pp7-0 to 7-6, Melbourne, Victoria, November 2003, ISBN 0 7340 2966 7.
  • 2002
    The Practical Use of Email Lists as Class Discussion Forums in an Advanced CourseThe Practical Use of Email Lists as Class Discussion Forums in an Advanced Course, Proceedings of the 2002 International Conference on Computers in Education, Auckland, New Zealand, Paper 152, ISBN 0-7695-1509-6.
  • 2001
    A Seismic Hazard Assessment and Microzonation of Bundaberg, Masters Thesis
  • 2001
    Seismic Hazard Microzonation, a Comparison of Different Methodologies That Have Been Used in Australia, AEES Proceedings of the 2001 Conference, Canberra, ACT.
  • 2000
    A Seismic Microzonation of Bundaberg, Queensland, V.H. Jensen, B. Butler (Eds), AEES Proceedings of the 2000 Conference, Hobart, Tasmania, ISBN 0-7340-2083-x.

Professional Memberships

  • Member of the Australian Earthquake Engineering Society
  • Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia
  • Website
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  • 07 4167 6538
  • Joined