California Gov. Gavin Newson, right, tours earthquake damage inside a Sears Hometown Store Saturday, July 6, 2019, in Ridgecrest, Calif. Officials in Southern California expressed relief Saturday that damage and injuries weren’t worse after the largest earthquake the region has seen in nearly 20 years, while voicing concerns about the possibility of major aftershocks in the days and even months to come. (Cal OES, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services via AP)

Recent quakes in B.C., California don’t mean ‘Big One’ is imminent, expert says

But people should still be prepared now, because there will be little warning

Although two recent earthquakes have raised fears over additional tremors in B.C., a Canadian seismologist says neither raised the risk of the “Big One.”

Honn Kao, an earthquake seismologist with Natural Resources Canada, said the timing of Wednesday’s 5.8 magnitude quake near Haida Gwaii and Saturday’s 7.1 magnitude quake in southern California was purely coincidental, as each instance was occurring along entirely different “tectonic settings.”

READ MORE: Magnitude 5.8 earthquake strikes near northern Vancouver Island

READ MORE: Southern California jolted by biggest quake in 20 years

British Columbians have long been warned to prepare for the “Big One,” a megathrust earthquake expected to hit somewhere along the Cascadia subduction zone, which runs along the west coast from northern Vancouver Island to northern California. A megathrust earthquake can occur when one tectonic plate slips under another.

“There is not a scientific basis to use the Haida Gwaii earthquake as any kind of prediction tool for any occurrence of the Big One,” Kao said, and the one in the U.S. was too far from the Cascadia zone.

But Kao said people living in B.C.’s coastal regions should still be watchful.

“On average, the megathrust earthquakes happen every 500 years,” he said. “We found that the shortest time interval between megathrust earthquakes is 250 years, while the longest interval was 800 years.”

The last megathrust earthquake happened in 319 years ago in 1700.

“We are definitely into the next cycle… so people should be well prepared for the strike of the next earthquake.”

READ MORE: Most British Columbians agree the ‘big one’ is coming, but only 50% are ready

In terms of what residents should expect, Kao pointed to the 2004 Indian Ocean Boxing Day earthquake and tsunami and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan.

The Indian Ocean quake came in at a magnitude of 9.1 and killed 227,898 people, while the quake in Japan hit just off the country’s eastern coast on March 11, 2011, and killed nearly 16,000.

Kao said a megathrust quake off the B.C. coast could have similar consequences, and since scientists aren’t yet able to predict such quakes before they happen, people should get prepared now.

When the “Big One” does hit, early warning systems will give people living nearby between five seconds and one minute of advance notice.

To learn about how to prepare for an earthquake or tsunami, read the provincial government’s guide.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Telus representative Doug Anastos (top left) and SitePath Consulting Ltd.’s consultant Brian Gregg (top right) present to the SRD board, including CAO David Leitch (bottom left) and Cortes Island director Noba Anderson, on Jan. 13, 2021. Photo courtesy SRD/Youtube
Improved wireless connection for Quadra, Cortes pitched to SRD

Idea includes new towers at various locations on islands

Eva Xu (left) and Joanne Moon (right) presents Campbell River Hospital Foundation executive director Stacey Marsh (centre) with a $1,476 cheque to go towards the new mammography machine at the hospital. Photo supplied by Campbell River Hospital Foundation.
Gourmet Essentials donates nearly $1,500 to Hospital Foundation

Machine will cut wait times for mammogram results

Robbie Burns Day will be celebrated a little differently this year, but celebrated it will be as the Tidemark Theatre presents a live virtual celebration that will be available for ticketholders to view for three days. Black Press File Photo
Tidemark Theatre presents Burns Night 2021: The Bard & His Ballads

A tale of whisky and haggis, and of how Robbie Burns would emerge as a champion for the common man

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.
The tree planting life on Vancouver Island features in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

Bill Reekie and his then-four-year-old granddaughter Lily. Photo contributed
Alzheimer’s – the Unplanned Journey

By Jocelyn Reekie Special to the Mirror “January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month… Continue reading

B.C. Representative for Children and Youth Jennifer Charlesworth (Black Press files)
B.C. watchdog says mentally ill children and youth retraumatized in hospital

The number of children held under the Mental Health Act has increased an alarming 162 per cent in past decade

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A new video from NCCIH and BC Northern Health titled ‘Healing in Pandemic Times: Indigenous Peoples, Stigma and COVID-19’ was animated by Joanne Gervais. (Photo Provided By: NCCIH Archives)
VIDEO: Stigma against Indigenous people is a ‘social sickness’

A new short animated video is aiming to educate the public on the stigmatization

Nanaimo RCMP are investigating after a threat was made at Woodgrove Centre on Tuesday, Jan. 19. (News Bulletin file photo)
Threat directed at Nanaimo mall, RCMP investigating

Police have searched areas of Woodgrove Centre accessible to shoppers and have deemed it safe

A pinniped was attacked by an unseen predator off the shores of Dallas Road Monday night. (Courtesy of Steffani Cameron)
VIDEO: Seal hunting, not being hunted in video shot off Victoria waterfront

Victoria woman captures footage of pinniped activity off Dallas Road

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

The British Columbia Hotel Association (BCHA) sent out a sharply worded release late last week, in which it noted that the Tourism Industry Association of BC recently obtained a ‘legal opinion’ on the matter (Alex Passini photo)
Hotel associations push back against any potential ban on inter-provincial, non-essential travel restrictions

B.C. Premier John Horgan is seeking legal advice on banning non-essential travel

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
COVID rapid tests in long-term care key during vaccine rollout: B.C. care providers

‘Getting kits into the hands of care providers should be a top priority,’ says former Health Minister

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. turns to second doses of COVID-19 vaccine as supplies slow

Pfizer shipments down until February, to be made up in March

Most Read