B.C. has history of big earthquakes

Classroom at Courtenay elementary school hit by a collapsing chimney in 1946

VICTORIA – Friday’s earthquake off Japan was a test for B.C.’s tsunami alert system, with beaches and coastal areas briefly evacuated and on alert for several hours.

It was also the latest in a long series of devastating events on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

Geological evidence indicates there have been 13 great earthquakes in the last 6,000 years. One of the biggest in world history was the Cascadia megathrust event on the B.C. coast on Jan. 26, 1700, which sent a huge tsunami with impacts that can still be seen in Japan.

Japanese records confirm oral histories of First Nations people on Vancouver Island, which describe multiple landslides, prolonged shaking so violent people couldn’t stand up, and the tsunami’s destruction of the winter village of the Pachena Bay people with no survivors.

More recently, there have been four earthquakes of magnitude seven or higher in the past 130 years in southwest B.C. and northern Washington State, according to Natural Resources Canada’s Earth Sciences Centre.

Canada’s largest earthquake since 1700 was the magnitude 8.1 event on the Queen Charlotte Fault on Aug. 22, 1949. It damaged buildings on Haida Gwaii and in Terrace, and was felt as far away as Seattle.

The boundary between the Pacific and North American plates runs underwater along the west coast of Haida Gwaii, and is B.C.’s equivalent of the San Andreas Fault in California.

Provincial emergency officials advise B.C. residents to prepare for earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Schools and offices participated in an earthquake exercise in January, focused on taking cover under desks or tables when shaking starts. Do not stand in doorways or attempt to get outside initially, but wait for shaking to subside before evacuating on a pre-planned route.

At home, people should assemble an emergency kit with enough non-perishable food and water to last three days.

Other items should include prescription medicines, a first aid kit, whistle, a portable radio and flashlight with extra batteries, tools and a waterproof container with matches and money.

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

Just Posted

Winter weather plays havoc on teams traveling to Hope

Road conditions and crashes kept some players from Mustangs’ tournament

VIDEO: Time’s running out for Montreal Alumni tickets in Hope

Habs will face off against Hope hockey players on Saturday afternoon

Fraser Valley snow storms finally fade

Six snowstorms in seven days pours on more than 40 cm

Peking Acrobats bring extraordinary exhibition of agility, athleticism and grace to Chilliwack

They will perform in beautiful costumes with dazzling special effects and live musicians

RCMP looking for tips in rash of crime in Hope

Theives broke into homes and cars in the Kawkawa Lake area

VIDEO: Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

A state of emergency is set to extend into a fifth day

Warm ‘blob’ could be behind mass starvation of North Pacific seabirds: study

Unprecedented death toll raises red flag for North American marine ecosystems

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mom shares ‘insane’ experience of viral dinosaur video

Tabitha Cooper filmed her costumed sons meeting their grandma at the Victoria International Airport

Convicted Fraser Valley con man facing 39 charges in Vancouver area

Donald Quinnell got four years prison in 2015, again facing fraud, theft, stolen credit card charges

Police seize nearly 50 kilos of drugs in Surrey

Police say this has taken perhaps millions of deadly doses of fentanyl and other drugs off the streets

Young child seriously injured in suspected drunk driving crash in Delta

“This needs to stop,” says Insp. Ciaran Feenan, head of the Delta Police Department’s patrol section

Elderly man in serious condition after being hit by bus in Burnaby

RCMP believe man, 82, was not at a crosswalk at the time

Most Read