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Are This Summer’s Earthquakes Cause for Concern?

In July of this year, North America’s west coast experienced a string of earthquakes, some rating as high as 6.7 in magnitude. This recent seismic activity has left many people worried and wondering if these quakes are just par-for-the-course or a sign of something worse to come.

Speaking to the Vancouver Sun, Simon Fraser University geologist Ben Ward says that people should be slightly nervous and take these little quakes as reminder to put together an earthquake kit for the future.

“We get one of these crustal quakes every 40 or 50 years, so we are due for one,” said Ward.

There are three different types of earthquakes, and British Columbia’s southwestern coast is at risk for each of them:

  • Crustal Earthquakes – Quakes that take place in the earth’s crust which causes high-frequency shaking, resulting in severe damage to brick buildings and other low-rise structures.
  • Deep Earthquakes – A deep-focus earthquake in seismology (also called a plutonic earthquake) is an earthquake with a hypocenter depth exceeding 300 km. They occur almost exclusively at convergent plate boundaries in association with subducted oceanic lithosphere.
  • Megathrust Earthquakes – a megathrust earthquake is a very large earthquake that occurs in a subduction zone (a region where one of the earth’s tectonic plates is thrust under another). The Cascadia subduction zone is located off the west coast of North America.

While there are constant quakes along the Cascadia subduction zone, people tend to get more nervous when they hear of earthquakes happening simultaneously across the globe. However, Ward says that the string of earthquakes experienced this July are not related.

It is important to look at each of these earthquakes and the damage that was caused to better evaluate solutions and plan for the future.

In 2001, a quake in Washington State caused upwards of 2 billion dollars in property damage. Similar active faults were detected along the Vancouver Island coast close to Victoria.

While it is important for individuals and families to be prepared for a similar earthquake as the one that occurred in Washington State, functionally resilient buildings cut down on damage costs and allow communities to provide vital services even after a natural disaster. Business owners and municipalities alike must be prepare for the inevitable “Big One” and the best way to do so is to prevent or minimize structural damage caused by earthquakes.

For more information on how to prepare for earthquakes, visit the Prepared BC website.

Octaform is committed to building structures that will be left standing after a natural disaster. For more information and to learn how we can help with seismic upgrades, contact us.