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3.9-magnitude Banff earthquake ‘not unusual’ for Rocky Mountain region: seismologist

Click to play video: '3.9-magnitude Banff earthquake ‘not unusual’ for Rocky Mountain region: seismologist' 3.9-magnitude Banff earthquake ‘not unusual’ for Rocky Mountain region: seismologist
People living in and visiting the Bow Valley got a big surprise Saturday. A 3.9-magnitude earthquake struck just six kilometres from Banff, according to Natural Resources Canada. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports – Feb 14, 2021

A Canadian seismologist said the 3.9 magnitude earthquake that hit the Banff, Alta., area on Saturday evening was not unusual but was more noticeable than what is usually experienced there.

“It’s a decent earthquake for that area,” Taimi Mulder, an earthquake seismologist with the Geological Survey of Canada, said.

“There’s a couple of earthquakes a year along the Rocky Mountains, and this is not unusual to have an earthquake, but it certainly is a bit larger one than we normally get in the Rockies.”

The earthquake, which occurred at 6:33 p.m. MT and was also felt in Canmore, was recognized at a 3.9 magnitude by Canadian officials. It was also reported as 4.4 magnitude by the United States Geological Survey.

Read more: Earthquake hits Banff region: ‘It was like an explosion’

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Canada uses a different set of seismic stations that are closer to the town, providing a more accurate number, Mulder said.

“We will get different magnitude estimates,” she said. “Ours are more accurate because they’re closer.”

The town of Banff said on social media Saturday evening that there was no significant damage reported in relation to the quake.

“We did reach out to all of our main infrastructure companies,” Banff fire chief Silvio Adamo said. “We have not had any (power) outages and our infrastructure for water and sewer has also been assessed and there’s been no unusual activity in those systems.”

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Adamo added that he “felt a quick shake and heard a large boom” when the quake happened.

“I immediately went outside to see if a tree had fallen on my house or if the neighbour’s furnace had exploded,” Adamo said.

“I saw all my other neighbours reacting in the same fashion — all outside taking a look to see what had gone on.”

Mulder said that the earthquake was considered “shallow.”

“This is still classified as a light earthquake in the world of earthquake seismology,” she said, but added it was still likely noticeable to most residents. “A magnitude four is 10 times more shaking, more ground displacement than a magnitude three.

Kathy Houncaren, who was visiting Banff from Edmonton, felt the shake and what she described as a “rumbling noise.”

“We were in our hotel room and all of a sudden everything shook. It felt like it was rolling,” Houncaren said. “It was only a few seconds. And we went to our daughter and asked, ‘What do you think that was?’ And she said it felt like a truck ran into the hotel.”

Click to play video: 'Earthquake hits Banff region: officials' Earthquake hits Banff region: officials
Earthquake hits Banff region: officials – Feb 13, 2021

Mulder added that earthquakes in mountain regions are common.

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“Where there are mountains, you have tectonic activity — that’s how the mountains were built,” Mulder said. “So having earthquakes in mountainous regions is very common.”

Alberta experienced 605 earthquakes between 1985 and 2011 — compared to just 41 in Saskatchewan during the same time.

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