March 4, 2019 10:33 am
Updated: March 7, 2019 11:09 am

4.6 magnitude earthquake hits central Alberta near Red Deer

WATCH ABOVE: Taimi Mulder from the Geological Survey of Canada / NRC speaks to Dallas Flexhaug about an earthquake that hit central Alberta on Monday.


A 4.6 magnitude earthquake hit central Alberta near Sylvan Lake and Red Deer just before 6 a.m. on Monday, according to Natural Resources Canada (NRC).

NRC shared details on the quake on its website, saying the quake’s epicentre was just south of Red Deer and had a depth of one kilometre.

Speaking to Global News, earthquake seismologist Taimi Mulder from the Geological Survey of Canada/NRC said the quake was in no way connected to a quake in Salmon Arm, B.C., on Saturday.

“There’s not often earthquakes in Alberta,” she said, adding it “may be due to tectonic activity just east of the Rockies.”

“Earthquakes occur every couple years in the foothills of the Rockies. This one is slightly larger than normal.”

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Mulder said they aren’t expecting any aftershocks and don’t expect the quake to have caused any structural damage to area buildings.

“We’ll take a closer look at this earthquake event over the next couple days and weeks and see if it can tell us anything else.”

READ MORE: Fracking and the major role it plays in causing earthquakes in Alberta

A professor of Geophysics at the University of Alberta said this earthquake, with the current data, is one of the largest the region has experienced.

“Magnitude 4s are not very common in Alberta,” Jeff Gu said.

“Although, in the last few years, there have been a few events of that similar size. The largest event I think was in the early 2000s, was on the order of (magnitude) 5 close to Dawson Creek… This would be smaller than that but still quite significant.”

Usually, damage is associated with quakes magnitude 5.5 or above, according to Gu.

Still, he thinks any event over magnitude 4 warrants analysis.

“Anything, whether it’s hydraulic fracturing, a natural event, or possibly related to wastewater injection — which was discovered not too far from this area in the Cordell Field in the past — I think any one of these mechanisms should require us to look deeply into this,” Gu said.

“Any time you feel the event, that’s a large event to monitor.”

WATCH BELOW: Natural Resources Canada says a 4.6 magnitude earthquake shook central Alberta at around 6 a.m. Monday. Kendra Slugoski spoke with people in Sylvan Lake.

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said most Red Deerians felt the quake Monday morning, herself included.

“I certainly did… Many Red Deerians woke up saying their house had shaken at about 5:55 this morning. We were certainly to surprised there had been earthquake activity,” Veer said.

“There apparently has been some earthquake activity in Red Deer in the past, but it’s certainly not very common.”

Vesta Energy’s monitoring equipment detected a seismic event about 20 kilometres southwest of Red Deer at 5:56 a.m.

A spokesperson for the oil and gas company said there were reports of power outages in the region.

Vesta shut down its “completions activity” in the area and is working with the Alberta Energy Regulator “to review and investigate the situation.”

Gu says that’s following protocol.

“Alberta Energy Regulator has a specific mandate that if the event happens with a magnitude of 4 or above, hydraulic fracturing activities, should they be responsible, must cease and the data should be handed over to them for analysis.”

It’s possible fracking caused the earthquake Monday, Gu said.

“In this area, especially the Rocky Mountain House area, there have been natural earthquakes in the past, there have been earthquakes due to oil and gas production. We cannot rule out the possibility of this one being linked to hydraulic fracturing, especially [in light of] a recent report that there had been hydraulic fracturing activity close to the event time.”

READ MORE: Mystery solved: ice quakes led to ground shifting in Alberta Beach

The Fortis Alberta website showed there were unplanned power outages in the Sylvan Lake area shortly after 6 a.m., and the power company told Global News it was looking into the cause.

Residents living in central Alberta took to social media on Monday to share stories of power outages and houses shaking after concerns over a potential earthquake.

A spokesperson with Altalink told Global News power was restored to the Sylvan Lake area at 7:30 a.m.

WATCH: The epicentre of Monday morning’s earthquake was about four kilometres south of Red Deer, near Sylvan Lake. Albert Delitala has reaction as some question fracking’s role in the 4.6 magnitude quake.

It’s not the first time Alberta has been rocked by seismic activity; in 2018, two seismic events were detected near Alberta Beach, and in 2014 a 4.3 magnitude earthquake hit Rocky Mountain House in August, followed by another small earthquake in Banff in October.

PHOTOS: The power outage associated with the earthquake knocked out a Sylvan Lake liquor store’s security system at 5:54 a.m.

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