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.

Just Posted

Jumbo saga reaches finale

A three-decade long disagreement comes to a close.

Province looking at steps to dissolve Jumbo resort municipality

Disincorporating municipality will likely require a legislative change, according to the province

Almost 20,000 parking tickets issued by Interior Health at hospitals in 2019

In 2018, pay parking in Interior Health hospitals totalled $5.3 million of their $2.2-billion budget

Ktunaxa, supporters celebrate protection of Qat’muk and the Jumbo valley

Speeches, acknowledgements and ceremonies mark an emotional gathering in Cranbrook

Former Waterside property to be rezoned?

Invermere residents supported rezoning Waterside property.

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

Most Read