At least 1 earthquake, possibly 2, ‘jolt’ southeast Saskatchewan

Multiple agencies are reporting recent earthquake activity in southeast Saskatchewan. SaskAlert / Screenshot

At least one earthquake has been confirmed this week in southeast Saskatchewan.

Larry Long, senior vice-president of potash operations for Nutrien, confirmed one with the epicenter north of the Rocanville mine lease was picked up by their instrumentation around 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

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“Our microseismic system at the Rocanville mine recorded 3.7 (magnitude) … somewhere in the vicinity of Esterhazy,” Long said.

“Didn’t stop operations, we just do normal checks. The people go around and check the operations in the mill and underground in the mine and in the shaft to make sure everything is functioning properly. There’s been no damage. That’s not really a significant event for us,” Long said.

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“Even though I said it’s not a significant event, we still do the inspections just to be safe,” Long said.

Click to play video: 'Going underground with Nutrien’s potash crews'
Going underground with Nutrien’s potash crews

While there was no damage, injuries or disruptions and these events are rare, Long said they have general protocols in place if there are any incidents that require them to shelter people or initiate emergency response.

“That would be hypothetical and why I’m saying that is because one of the great things about operating a mine in the middle of the continent, in the Prairies, is that there’s no, I would call, naturally occurring earthquakes,” Long said.

“And so what’s happening is — it’s probably this — without any clear evidence or anything I can point to that it’s probably mining related. So it’s minor in nature,” Long said.

“It’s not very common, to be honest with you,” Long said.

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“We have microseismic events at any mine, like not only potash, any mine would have microseismic events, but they wouldn’t be recorded other than very sensitive systems within the mine itself.”

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According to Earthquakes Canada, Tuesday’s earthquake happened 29 km SSE of Langenburg, Sask., with a magnitude of 3.9 and there were no reports of damage. As of Thursday afternoon, it was the only report in the province on the federal agency’s website.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said an earthquake of magnitude 4.0 occurred 28 km SSE of Langenburg on Wednesday night.

Geophysicist Don Blakeman, with the USGS National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado, said there weren’t any reports of it being felt.

“This sort of quake, it’s true of southern Canada … but these kinds of quakes are not that unusual. This size on down, like the twos and threes, they can pretty much happen anywhere in the continent,” Blakeman said.

“Magnitude four’s big enough to be seen by, not felt by, people real widely, but to be picked up by sensitive stations fairly widely,” Blakeman said.

“A quake like this might shake for a couple of seconds, two or three. Oftentimes they’re more described as a jolt than really shaking. And of course, it depends on how close you are to the epicenter,” Blakeman said.

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Long said he heard about a report about a second earthquake but it was not picked up by their equipment.

Langenburg is approximately 220 km east of Regina.

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