Canada earthquakes

If you come from certain places of the world (like the Philippines), you might be used to the idea of the occasional earthquake or two. If you decide to move to a new country, it would be a good idea to check if there are similar seismic events that happen there. So the question is: does Canada have earthquakes?

earthquake damage

What is an earthquake?

An earthquake is what happens when the surface of the earth shakes, releasing a burst of energy that creates seismic waves.

The earth’s crust is made up of different sections called tectonic plates. These plates move constantly, and produce small earthquakes all year round.

The strength of earthquakes range from hardly felt to strong enough to destroy buildings and other infrastructure.

Earthquakes are usually caused by ruptures in geological faults and volcanic activity. The point of the rupture is called the hypocenter, while the point at ground level directly above the hypocenter is called the epicentre.

Despite what you might see in movies, earthquakes cannot be predicted. Buildings might suffer from structural damage, but they don’t automatically collapse in the event of an earthquake.

earthquake rubble

Top 10 Canada earthquakes

Earthquakes happen in Canada. The coastal regions of the province of British Columbia is most at risk, parts of the three northern territories, as well as the St. Lawrence and Ottawa River Valley.

Every year, Canada experiences over 5,000 minor earthquakes (seismic activity measuring 3.9 or less on the Richter scale).

For the past century, Canada has experienced nine magnitude 7 or stronger earthquakes.

Below are the top 10 strongest earthquakes recorded in Canada:

  1. Magnitude 6.3 – Nahanni region, NWT December 23, 1985
  2. Magnitude 6.9 – Vancouver Island, BC December 6, 1918
  3. Magnitude 7 – Charlevoix, QC February 5, 1663
  4. Magnitude 7 – Haida Gwaii, BC May 26, 1929
  5. Magnitude 7.2 – Grand Banks, NL November 18, 1929
  6. Magnitude 7.3 – Vancouver Island, BC June 23, 1946
  7. Magnitude 7.4 – Haida Gwaii, BC June 24, 1970
  8. Magnitude 7.7 – Haida Gwaii, BC October 27, 2012
  9. Magnitude 8.1 – Haida Gwaii, BC August 22, 1949
  10. Magnitude 9 – Cascadia subduction zone, BC January 26, 1700
Canada earthquakes seismic debris

Top 10 Philippine earthquakes

The Philippines is located along the Pacific Ring of Fire.

The Ring of Fire is a 40,000 km area in the Pacific Ocean which is known for its earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

More than 75% of the world’s volcanoes are located in the Ring of Fire.

More than 90% of the world’s earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire.

More than 80% of the world’s strongest earthquakes occur along the Ring of fire.

Below are the top 10 strongest earthquakes recorded in the Philippines:

  1. Magnitude 6.5 quake in Ilocos Norte (August 17, 1983)
  2. Magnitude 6.9 earthquake in Central Visayas (February 6, 2012)
  3. Magnitude 7.1 earthquake in Mindoro (November 15, 1994)
  4. Magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Bohol (October 15, 2013)
  5. Magnitude 7.3 earthquake in Casiguran (August 2, 1968)
  6. Magnitude 7.5 earthquake in Central and Southern Mindanao (March 5, 2002)
  7. Magnitude 7.5 earthquake in Luzon (November 30, 1645)
  8. Magnitude 7.6 earthquake happened near Guiuan, Eastern Samar (August 31, 2012)
  9. Magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Northern and Central Luzon (July 16, 1990)
  10. Magnitude 8.0 earthquake in Mindanao (August 17, 1976)
Canada earthquakes seismic damage

What you should do in the event of an earthquake

It would be good to have an emergency plan in place. Earthquakes can happen at anytime, so you should sit down and discuss your plan with your family.

Know where the nearest hospitals are to your school, office and home. Advise your children to stay where they are in the event of an earthquake that happens in the middle of the day.

Anyone old enough should know how to turn off the water and electricity from the mains at your home.

You should also look at your furniture, making sure that heavier items are located nearer the floor. Any cabinets, shelves and other fixtures must be secure.

Flammable items and chemicals must be placed as far away as possible from heat sources.

Make sure to have an emergency kit readily available, including a first aid kit, extra clothes, extra shoes, prescription medicine, batteries, and cash. Non-perishable food and water should also be included.

Talk to your insurance agent to see what kind of coverage you have for earthquake damage.

When an earthquake starts, move to a safe location immediately and stay there until the earthquake stops.

If you are indoors, you should remember to drop, cover and hold on.

Find cover underneath any table, desk or bed frame. Stay away from windows.

If you are outdoors, find an open space and stay away from buildings.

If you are in a vehicle, pull over to keep the roads accessible for emergency vehicles such as police cars, ambulances and firetrucks. Do not park underneath bridges or freeways. Turn on your radio and listen for instructions from authorities.

If you are near a coastline, head for higher ground immediately.

After an earthquake, you should check each member of your family, especially elders and children.

Be prepared for aftershocks, listen to the radio for further instructions from authorities. Check your home for structural damage, do not reenter unless safe.

If possible, fill bathtub with tap water. Do not flush toilets. Clean up any debris such as broken glass from damaged windows.

Call 911 if you need immediate assistance.


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