Powerful Earthquakes in Canada: Is the “Big One” About to Hit B.C.?

See this story in its original post HERE

It was like a scene from a 1950’s educational film. Earlier this week about 450,000 British Columbians dropped and huddled under their desks and coffee tables as an alarm was broadcast over the radio. This wasn’t one of those infamous nuclear drills of the 50’s, but for a much more incalculable threat: earthquake.

The drill was dubbed the Great British Columbia Shake Out and was modeled on a similar dry run Californians took part in late last year. It’s purpose was prepare the province for when the big one hits, and it will… eventually.

The Pacific Coast, especially the area immediately west of Vancouver, is the most earthquake prone region in the country. The coast lies along the meeting point of three plates, the Pacific, the Juan de Fuca and the North American. When these plates rub against one another, it causes a quake.

Earthquakes in Canada 2005-2010

Earthquakes in Canada 2005-2010

Big Canadian Quakes
Canada is actually a seismic hotspot with an average of about three to four quakes per day and over 1,200 earthquakes per year. Although most of these tremors can’t be felt, they still register on the Richter scale.

Eastern Canada is perceived as a safe zone, yet fault lines along the Ottawa and St-Lawrence river valleys make it earthquake prone. On Sept. 25, 1998, a 5.4 quake shook parts of Southern Ontario, rattling dishes and knocking objects from shelves. And early last summer a 5.0 quake rattling buildings from Sudbury to Quebec City, and as far south as New York City.

Out of all the provinces, Saskatchewan has the fewest number of earthquakes. Only three in the past five years have originated in the province, although two others have struck near its borders.

The last “Big One” that we had in Canada happened in 1700 and measured a magnitude of 9.0. It destroyed Native villages and actually caused a tsunami in Japan.

Two people died at sea when an earthquake ripped through Vancouver Island in 1946. This 7.3 quake occurred near Campbell River and toppled many chimneys, causing extensive damage.

And in 1929 the Maritimes were rocked by a 7.2 magnitude quake that killed 29 in Newfoundland’s Bruin Peninsula.

World Comparison
Compare these to the world’s strongest earthquake on record: a 9.5 on the Richter scale. On May 22, 1960 it struck off the coast of Chile, causing 1,655 deaths and 3,000 injuries. The ensuing tsunami caused approximately 675 million dollars in damages in Chile, Hawaii, Japan, the Philippines and the West Coast of the United States.


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