Saturday, October 27, 2012

Haida Gwaii rocked by 7.7 earthquake

The strongest earthquake to strike Canada in 60 years rumbled across Haida Gwaii, the North Coast and into the Northern Interior on Saturday night, as a 7.7 magnitude quake struck at four minutes after 8  PM.

The large scale quake rattle a few dishes, as well as a few nerves in Prince Rupert and around the region, but remarkably in the case of Haida Gwaii which was the centre of the seismic event Saturday, little in the way of any serious damage had been reported in the hours that followed the temblor.

Power went out temporarily in some regions of Haida Gwaii, but no power outages or other concerns were reported from other communities across Northwestern British Columbia or Alaska.

The epicentre of the quake struck 139 kilometres south of Masset on Haida Gwaii, with seismic waves rumbling across the northern parts of the province and into Alaska, the magnitude of the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami warnings that were put in place led officials across the region to activated their Emergency Operations centres.

With fears of a potential tsunami wave arriving on the shores of Prince Rupert, local officials had advised residents of areas close to the waterfront to  head towards higher ground, basically at five corners (Park Avenue/2nd Avenue West) in the west and 6th Avenue East and Drydock road to the East.

Likewise, people in the at risk areas such as the waterfront, marinas and floats of the region were advised to move to the higher elevations. At times, those instructions resulted in heavy traffic in areas at those higher elevations as people made their way up towards the Roosevelt Park/Hospital area.

As a precaution the Port of Prince Rupert suspended operations at all of its industrial terminals both at Fairview and at Ridley Island.

As the evening progressed the threat of a tsunami causing concern in Prince Rupert eased and by 11 PM, the City had closed it's Command Centre at City Hall advising that any significant arrival of waves was not expected.

The tsunami warning was downgraded to an advisory shortly before the midnight hour. Some of the reported wave measurements were 28 to 44 centimetres along the coast, as the warnings were downgraded along coastal British Columbia, officials in Hawaii issued a tsunami warning for the Islands.

With the official work out of the way on the night, Prince Rupert Mayor Jack Mussallem became a popular media subject on Saturday night, making appearances on the major British Columbia networks such as CBC and Global, as well as with local media sources.

Attorney General and Justice Minister Shirley Bond held a conference call late Saturday evening,  providing an update on the latest information regarding the earthquake and events that followed it, a recording of it is available here.

For the most part, the main conduit of information seemed to be through a variety of social media outlets, with twitter feeds and facebook pages jumping to life shortly after the quake struck.

Since the 7.7 event on Haida Gwaii there were close to fourteen after shocks recorded up to the midnight hour, ranging anywhere from 4.0 to 5.8 in magnitude.   More aftershocks were anticipated over the  course of the next few days as the earth settles from Saturday's excitement.

The USGS offers a useful website detailing all of the seismic activity around the world, which on Saturday and into Sunday morning featured quite a few reports from Haida Gwaii.

Saturday's earthquake struck in much the same area as the 8.1 temblor of 1949, joined now by Saturday nights quake as a reminder of the always active fault lines of the North Pacific region.

Environment Canada Tsunami Advisory

Items of note from a variety of media sources can be found below.

QCI Observer-- Big earthquake south of Sandspit shakes Haida Gwaii
The Northern View-- 7.7 magnitude earthquake hits 139 km south of Masset, Prince Rupert deemed safe
CFTK-- No serious Damage Report from Strong Earthquake
CFTK-- Tsunami warning Downgraded to Advisory
CFTK-- Precautionary Evacuations at Prince Rupert Port
CFTK-- Earthquake Strikes Haida Gwaii
Terrace Standard-- Earthquake off Haida Gwaii
Terrace Standard-- Tsunami warning issued
Opinion 250-- Earthquake Shakes Northern B. C.
Opinion 250-- Residents Moved to 5 Corners in Prince Rupert After 7.7 Earthquake Hits
Opinion 250-- Parts of Tofino Evacuated as Precaution After Earthquake
Opinion 250-- No Major Damage Reported From Massive Quake
Opinion 250-- 1800 People Evacuated At Masset
Vancouver Sun-- 7.7 earthquake hits Haida Gwaii Region, Tsunami warning downgraded to advisory
Vancouver Province-- 'Our hearts are still beating fast 'Magnitude 7.7 quake recorded off Haida Gwaii Small tsunami waves hit B. C. after 7.7 quake Live Blog of post earthquake period
CTVBC-- Tsunami warnings downgraded after B. C. coastal quake
Global BC-- 7.7 earthquake strikes off coast of Prince Rupert (video)
Global BC-- 7.7 quake shakes B. C. coast sets off Tsunami advisories from Alaska to Victoria
Globe and Mail-- Evacuations in B. C. after quake sparks tsunami warning
National Post-- Tsunami warning issued after 7.7 magnitude earthquake strikes off B. C. coast

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