Posts Tagged ‘earthquake’

By Matthew Casey

Apparent by the number of people who evacuated buildings during June 23rd's 5.0 earthquake in Ontario, many people did not know what to do in this situation.

Since the earthquake that occurred in Eastern Canada has many people still talking, it may be a good idea to go over the proper safety procedures to follow in an earthquake.  What was quite evident in talking to most office workers who were downtown or in any high-rise that experienced the shaking is that nobody knew what to do.

Prof. Paul Kovacs of the University of Western Ontario says in an interview with CBC that what most people did by evacuating office buildings during the event was one of the worst things to do.   Debris that is most likely to injure or kill people would come from the exterior of the building.  During an earthquake many pieces of debris will fall from the exterior of a building, however, most of the high rises in major cities are built to withstand the force of a strong earthquake making the safest place to be inside of them.  If you are going to leave the building then the next best thing to do would be to get as far away from the structure as possible, this is something that many office workers did not do in yesterday’s quake.

If you are wondering what steps to take in an earthquake to stay safe you can check out this link at which details everything from what to expect from a minor and major quake to how to prepare your home for one.

Listed here are the steps to take to remain safe if you find yourself in an earthquake.

If indoors:

• Stay inside.

• Drop under heavy furniture such as a table, desk, bed

or any solid furniture.

• Cover your head and torso to prevent being hit by falling


• Hold onto the object that you are under so that you remain


• If you can’t get under something strong, or if you are in a

hallway, flatten yourself or crouch against an interior wall.

• If you are in a shopping mall, go into the nearest store.

Stay away from windows, and shelves with heavy objects.

• If you are at school, get under a desk or table and hold on.

Face away from windows.

• If you are in a wheelchair, lock the wheels and protect the

back of your head and neck.

If you are outdoors:

• Stay outside.

• Go to an open area away from buildings.

• If you are in a crowded public place, take cover where you

won’t be trampled.

If you are in a vehicle:

• Pull over to a safe place where you are not blocking the

road. Keep roads clear for rescue and emergency vehicles.

• Avoid bridges, overpasses, underpasses, buildings or

anything that could collapse.

• Stop the car and stay inside.

• Listen to your car radio for instructions from emergency


• Do not attempt to get out of your car if downed power

lines are across it. Wait to be rescued.

• Place a HELP sign in your window if you need assistance.

• If you are on a bus, stay in your seat until the bus stops. Take

cover in a protected place. If you can’t take cover, sit in a

crouched position and protect your head from falling debris.

To reiterate, the Eastern half of the country is not prone to major violent quakes and people should not panic about another major event occurring. However, it doesn’t hurt to know what to do in the event that a more significant event was to occur.

By Matthew Casey

A magnitude 5.0 quake centered out of Western Quebec was felt as far away as Windsor, Ontario.

It was a much unexpected event today that had many people talking around the dinner table across eastern Canada.  A magnitude 5.0 earthquake occurred in Quebec just 50 kilometres north of the city of Ottawa and was felt as far away as Windsor in southern Ontario. Damage from this event was minor with the most significant damage being a collapsed bridge from a causeway in Bowman, Quebec.   Although it may be an occurrence that is not common around this part of the country, it is still a startling reminder that Central Canada is indeed on a fault zone and can be subjected to seismic activity.

When most think of a major earthquake prone area in North America the place that most likely comes to mind is the West coast.  But the quake that occurred today has drawn attention to the not often talked about fault lines that exist in Eastern and Central Canada.   The quake that occurred on June 23 was centered in the Western Quebec Seismic zone which is an area that encompasses a vast amount of land from the Ottawa Valley from Montreal to Temiscaming, Quebec, as well as the Laurentians and Eastern Ontario.

While this area seems not to be prone to frequent seismic events, there have been some notable quakes in the past.  Records from Natural Resources Canada indicate that between the years 1980 and 2000 sixteen earthquakes in this seismic zone have reached or exceeded 4.0 on the Richter scale.  The area has also seen more significant quakes in the past that include a 5.8 magnitude quake in 1732 that rocked the city of Montreal and caused significant damage.  Another more severe event occurred in 1935 when a magnitude 6.2 earthquake shook the area of Temiscaming, Quebec, a sparsely populated area about 194 kilometres east of Sudbury, Ontario.   This quake was followed by another significant one nine years later in 1944 which took place between Cornwall, Ontario and Massena, NY.  The magnitude 5.6 quake caused significant damage estimated at two million dollars at the time.

What the quake of June 23, 2010 brings to light is how unprepared the eastern portion of Canada may be to deal with such an event.  As history shows there have been stronger quakes than this one and had a stronger one occurred the area may not have been entirely prepared to deal with any damage that would be caused by a more severe event.   Today’s event showed that many were caught by surprise because this sort of thing is not something that is thought to happen in this part of the country.

Dr. Arsalan Mohajer, a professor of geology at the University of Toronto said in an interview with the Globe and Mail that there are faults that run across Ontario and Quebec that could be potentially disastrous for this area if it is not prepared for a more violent quake.  Dr. Mohajer says that there is a threatening fault that runs along the St. Lawrence River valley that could affect many areas around Montreal, Cornwall and Quebec City.  He also mentions that there is another similar fault that is located in the Niagara-Pickering area of Ontario that is in his words  “inconveniently close to Toronto and safety-related nuclear facilities east of the city.

According Dr. Mohajer the western half of Canada is prepared to deal with a major quake by investing in stricter building codes and teaching children what to do in an earthquake.  However, he says that eastern half of the country doesn’t expect events like this and is therefore not prepared to deal with them in the same way.

But as history shows, the amount of major activity in this seismic area is fairly low.  Dr. Mohajer explained that the area is a “weak zone” that tends to see low to moderate activity.  Most quakes that occur in other areas are the result of two plate boundaries pushing together.  However the event that occurred today was what is known as an “intraplate quake” which occurs within the plate as a result of pressure building up from constant pushing at the boundaries.

If nothing else, the earthquake of June 23 should be an eye opener that no one should forget that this area is not immune to these types of natural disasters.  Hopefully this will cause communities in Eastern and Central Canada to review their preparedness plans to ensure that they have proper plans in place to deal with a more significant event should one occur in the future.


Natural Resources Canada
The Globe and Mail

Earthquake Hits GTA

Posted: June 23, 2010 by Matthew Casey in Commentaries
Tags: , , , , ,

So today I was in the shower getting ready for work when I felt a weird sensation.  A slight tremor seemed to make me  almost lose my balance and I began to think that something was wrong with me.  After my shower I went out to the living room and turned on the television and began watching CP 24.  To my surprise they were covering a breaking news story about a 5.5 magnitude earthquake that just hit the GTA.

This is the first time I have ever felt an earthquake in my life and I have to say it was an unsettling feeling! Hopefully that is all we will feel in terms of this quake.   Everyday seems to be so unpredictable, never know what you’re going to experience!