Thursday, November 28th 2019, 3:03 pm - Residents in Penticton reported that they lightly felt the earthquake.
A series of earthquakes have been reported in British Columbia over the past week with the most recent being a minor 2.2-magnitude earthquake near Kelowna around 1:30 a.m. on Thursday.
The epicentre of Thursday’s earthquake was located near Penticton and Natural Resources Canada (NRC) noted that residents in Penticton lightly felt the earthquake. There are currently no reports of damage, and the agency states that none would be expected from a tremor at this intensity.
Vancouver Island is located along the Cascadia subduction zone, where the Juan de Fuca plate slides beneath the North American plate and generates about 300 small earthquakes a year in southwestern British Columbia.
Seismologists believe that this subduction zone is capable of producing earthquakes with a magnitude 9 and the last big earthquake was a 7.3-magnitude tremor that occurred near Courtenay in 1946. The NRC states that there is the possibility for a mega-thrust rupture earthquake, which occurs every approximately 200 to 800 years along the Cascadia subduction zone.
The last destructive earthquake of this magnitude occur on January 27, 1700, and caused a tsunami that struck the coast of Japan.
“We now know that a similar offshore event will happen sometime in the future and that it represents a considerable hazard to those who live in southwest B.C. However, because the fault is offshore, it is not the greatest earthquake hazard faced by major west coast cities,” explains the NRC.
Tectonic plates get stuck together in between earthquakes as they very slowly move towards each other. As the plates continue to squeeze together, a significant amount of strain builds up and causes the Earth’s crust in the coastal region to deform. These plates will eventually slip-free, and seismologists expect this will generate a massive offshore earthquake comparable to the 9.2 magnitude quake that struck Alaska in 1964.