Earthquakes in Montreal? No way!

A small 3.8 magnitude earthquake struck about 70km northeast of Montreal. The shaking was felt in parts of Laval, Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, and Notre-Dame-de-Grace (NDG).

Even though this was a small magnitude earthquake (on the grand scale of earthquake magnitudes), it wasn’t the first one to hit Quebec and it definitely won’t be the last. Earthquakes pose huge threats to communities living in earthquake-prone areas and cause billion-dollar losses to the economy. Canada records over 4000 earthquakes each year, approximately 11 per day. Fortunately, most of these earthquakes are not strong enough for us to feel them. For people living on the west coast of Canada, strong earthquakes are a reality and a big one is long overdue. However, eastern Canada holds its own seismic surprises. Earthquakes Canada, which is affiliated with Natural Resources Canada, monitors earthquake activity across Canada and determines the ground shaking potential of various locations across the country during an earthquake. The agency categorizes southwestern Quebec under the “High to Moderately High” seismic hazard zone, with a thirty percent chance of significant damage every 50 years.

Epicentral earthquake locations (colored circles) in eastern Canada in five-year intervals starting in 1985. The size of the circles is scaled by their magnitudes. Only earthquakes reported as felt are shown. Animation by Dr. Andres Peña-Castro, McGill University, using data from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)

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Science & Policy Exchange

Science & Policy Exchange

A student-run non-profit that works to foster the student voice in science policy and evidence-informed policy-making in Canada. Based in Montreal.