Canada: Fault line under Georgia Strait could cause magnitude 6.0 earthquake on Sunshine Coast - PressFrom - Canada
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CanadaFault line under Georgia Strait could cause magnitude 6.0 earthquake on Sunshine Coast

17:36  02 september  2019
17:36  02 september  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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A B.C. researcher says he's identified a major fault line under the Georgia Strait that could one day rupture and trigger a magnitude 6.0 earthquake off the coast of Vancouver.

Reid Merrill, a PhD student at the University of British Columbia, says the impact of such a quake could be similar to a 2001 earthquake that caused $1 billion worth of damage to the Seattle area.

"The epicentre would be much closer to these metropolitan areas like Nanaimo and Vancouver and Sechelt," said Merrill, who studies in the department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. "In some ways these earthquakes [...] can be more dangerous than the megathrust or the Big One."

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Magnitude . Earthquake Effects. Estimated Number Each Year. 2.5 or less. Usually not felt, but can be recorded by seismograph. Earthquake Magnitude Classes. Earthquakes are also classified in categories ranging from minor to great, depending on their magnitude .

An earthquake (also known as a quake , tremor or temblor) is the shaking of the surface of the Earth , resulting from the sudden release of energy in the Earth 's lithosphere that creates seismic waves.

According to Natural Resources Canada, an earthquake with a magnitude between 6.1 and 6.9 can cause damage to poorly constructed buildings and other structures in areas up to about 100 kilometres from the epicentre.

Fault line under Georgia Strait could cause magnitude 6.0 earthquake on Sunshine Coast © Kevin Galvin/FEMA A UBC researcher says an earthquake under the Georgia Strait could cause damage similar to the Nisqually quake near Seattle in 2001.

Alison Bird, a seismologist with Natural Resources Canada, says a major earthquake from this fault would damage older brick buildings and buildings constructed before seismic codes were in place.

She says Merrill's findings are a "good reminder that we live in earthquake country."

The fault's location was pinpointed by analyzing 30 years of data tracking a cluster of quakes to the southwest of Texada Island.

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Merrill and his colleague Michael Bostock determined that the quakes make up an earthquake nest, which spans 10 to 20 kilometres of the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate.

"A 20-kilometre long fault, if it were to rupture in its entirety, would be the equivalent of a greater than magnitude six earthquake, where the size of the fault is directly related to the magnitude of the event."

The Juan de Fuca tectonic plate, which is off the coast of British Columbia, is being forced underneath the North American plate. The energy from that movement is being stored up inside the rocks, waiting for the moment it will be released as a catastrophic megathrust earthquake — otherwise known as "The Big One."

The Texada Island earthquake nest, however, is located deep within the Juan de Fuca plate, approximately 65 km below the surface. Although between four and 10 seismic events occur every year in the location, the depth of their epicentre means much of their energy is lost by the time the vibrations reach the surface.

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Earthquake locations and epicenters today and in the last few days - the most recent earthquakes . Today: 6 . 0 magnitude earthquake near Sola, Torba, Vanuatu.

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Fault line under Georgia Strait could cause magnitude 6.0 earthquake on Sunshine Coast © CBC News A concentration of seismic activity below the Georgia Strait, southeast of Texada Island, has been identified as an earthquake nest because of the continuous smaller quakes that have occurred there over at least 30 years.

"Most of the earthquakes that we've caught are occurring on faults that we have been unable to map simply because they're so deep," Bird said.

Hard to predict next major quake

It's unclear what's causing the tremors southwest of Texada Island, Merrill said. One of his theories is that as water escapes the Juan de Fuca plate, it creates instability in the rocks around the fault. Another theory he finds less likely is that the tremors are aftershocks associated with large earthquakes that could have occurred over a century ago.

Earthquake nests have also been identified in Romania, Afghanistan and Columbia. The most significant earthquake caused by one of the nests was a magnitude 7.7 in Vrancea, Romania almost 80 years ago.

Merrill says without knowing when the Texada fault's last major event occurred, it's difficult to predict when the next one might happen.

"There are some historical records that indicate that maybe Nanaimo was struck by a magnitude five earthquake in the early 1900s," he said. "So this could have originated from the fault that we've identified. But we can't say for sure."

In the meantime, he says city planners in Nanaimo and Sechelt can use the findings about the Texada earthquake nest when selecting new building sites.

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