USGS Community Internet Intensity Map M5.0 – Ontario-Quebec Border Region, Canada

By: CJ Ramsaran 

Earthquakes don’t happen in Canada, or do they? 

While seated at my desk on the second story of my office building, I felt the earth move right under me, and believe me… there is no pun intended! 

Sitting there at my desk, I felt my chair rocking from side to side.  At first I was in disbelief; I chalked it up to my imagination. Yet, the shaking continued, and I could hear the gasps of coworkers begin to echo in unison throughout the office.   

It was then, with vivid realization came the acceptance, that we were  feeling the tremors of an earthquake.    

The tremors lasted a mere 20-30 seconds, but it was long enough to seem as though time was standing still. 

As reported by US Geological Survey (USGS), the epicentre of the quake is along the Ontario/Quebec border; south of Echo Lake; 61 kilometres north of Ottawa; where the first tremor; initially reported as a 5.5 magnitude quake hit at 1:41PM EST.  

In the minutes following the quake, Johanna Wagstaffe, a CBC Seismologist and Meteorologist, stated “there are small fault lines along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and a relatively active fault line that runs parallel to the St. Lawrence Valley.”   

The quake is reported to have been felt on the outskirts of Quebec, throughout Central & Southern Ontario, and in the Northern United States (Southfield, MI and Rochester, NY). 

Following the tremor, phone lines, BBM, Twitter, and Facebook went into overdrive.  We’d rather update our social media stats and profiles, rather than ensure our own safety and well-being.  After all, we are practising “social responsibility.” 

There has not been any immediate reports of damage or injury, many buildings in downtown Ottawa were evacuated, several of which are reported to have shattered windows.   

Toronto locals have reported seeing chairs and desks shaking, windows rattling, and items shifting or falling off window sills.  Several businesses in Toronto’s downtown also evacuated following the first tremor. 

Although earthquakes are far and few between in these parts of Canada, they have occurred here before.  On September 25, 1998 a 5.4 magnitude quake was centred south of Lake Erie, and felt across Southern Ontario.  Prior to this, another quake was felt in the same area in January, 1985. 

Leading up to today’s earthquake, our neighbours in the Quebec Region have experienced three quakes over 3.0 magnitude on the Richter Scale, all within the past two months.    

Based on historic data and precedent; we could anticipate to see another quake in this region in the next 10-12 years.  However, with the changing times, we may need to prepare ourselves for more frequent occurences.If it can happen anywhere else, it can happen right here….   

Will you be prepared?