Monday, January 30, 2023

50 Earthquake Sensors to be placed in high risk seismic areas of British Columbia

The Earthquakes Canada 
Map of Quakes from
1627-2021 for BC
The science of earthquake prediction will take another leap forward soon in British Columbia, with the Provincial and Federal governments announcing plans to install  up to 50 earthquake early warning sensors in high risk seismic areas of the province.

The sensors will connect to the national Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) system that will be operational in 2024, supplementing and complementing several hundred sensors already installed by Natural Resources Canada. 

 The system will give seconds to tens of seconds of warning before the strongest shaking arrives at coastal communities in British Columbia and will assist in the protection of critical transportation infrastructure in British Columbia. 

The expansion of the system in British Columbia follows on an initial placement back in 2022 at the BC Ferries Terminal at Horseshoe Bay. 

The full BC system which will be part of a nationwide connection is expected to see installation complete and in service by 2024.

As both governments note from their Announcement, alerts from the EEW system could also be used towards infrastructure safety systems, allowing for automatic action, among the areas of note for that include:

Triggering trains to slow down
Stopping traffic from driving onto bridges or into tunnels
Diverting incoming air traffic
Allowing surgeons to stop surgery
Closing gas valves
Opening fire hall and ambulance bay doors

The placement of the sensors was hailed  as a critical addition to the system by Bowinn Ma, BC's Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Change.

“The Cascadia Megathrust Earthquake that occurred on January 26, 1700, was one of the world’s strongest earthquakes, causing widespread destruction to coastal Indigenous communities and producing a tsunami that swept across the Pacific Ocean. 

An early earthquake warning system is critical to our ability to help British Columbians mitigate the impacts of another major seismic event. By installing these sensors, we will help provide critical seconds of notice in the event of an earthquake, so that people, businesses and automated systems can take protective action.”

The list of locations where the sensors will be placed in British Columbia was not released as part of the announcement.

One location destined for some of the recording stations will be Haida Gwaii, which is one of the most seismically active regions in the province.

The region was the host of one of the most powerful earthquakes in recent history back on October 27th of 2012, when a 7.7 magnitude quake struct just after 8PM.

It also hosted the title for the largest quake in BC, an 8.1 magnitude event back in August of 1949.

More notes on seismic activity on the North Coast and Haida Gwaii can be reviewed through our archive page

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