Did you feel that rumble, around 11:03 am, while sitting at your kitchen table and quickly get up to check if a rather large truck was driving passed? Then it clicked that it usually does not take thirty seconds for a truck to pass your home. So, indeed like every rational human you turned to the internet and the powers of google and hey maybe facebook too. After a few seconds of internet surfing the light bulb flickered on and “Ah ha” it was an earthquake. To be exact, it was a magnitude 3.7 earthquake with an epicentre 6 km outside of Bedford, which is a town very close to the Vermont border.
Now that you know all the primary information you might be wondering, “what does magnitude 3.7 even mean?”. Well let’s begin with the Richter Scale. The Richter Scale is used to measure seismic activity of the earth or earthquakes. It is a logarithmic scale of numbers that represents the power or magnitude. Magnitude is measured using base 10 meaning that every number greater on the Richter Scale is 10 times more intense than the previous number. For example, magnitude 2 is 10 times stronger than a magnitude 1, but a magnitude 3 is 100 times stronger than a 1. The Richter Scale is universal and used all over the world to measure the earths activity. With this knowledge of the Richter Scale we can assess the severity of our 3.7 quake. So, we know a measure of 0 would mean nothing has happened to move the needle on the seismograph. Magnitude 2.5 and less would be recorded by the needle but most likely will not be felt by people on earth’s surface. Magnitude 2.5 – 5.4 are more likely to be felt by people but rarely cause any damage at all. Anything greater, 5.5 – 8.8+, will for sure be felt significantly on earth’s surface and cause damage to buildings. The earthquake we felt today, 3.7, was able to be felt by people on the surface but was not strong enough to cause any damage. On the Richter Scale they consider a magnitude 3.7 a minor earthquake.
With all this in mind, there is nothing to worry about with a quake this size. There will be no aftershocks or tsunamis due to this earthquake in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. It might have shaken your coffee cup, but it did not rock your socks off!
In other news one curiosity leads to another, meaning more earthquake research. This time I focused my research to Canada in general to find out if earthquakes are “normal” here. The answer is yes, earthquakes happen quite regularly in Eastern Canada. They might not be huge strong earthquakes shaking everything up, but they do occur and are recorded. Approximately there are 450 earthquakes in Eastern Canada each year. Of these 450 quakes approximately 4 will be above a magnitude 4, maybe 30 will be over a magnitude 3, and approximately only 25 earthquakes will be felt by people. Earthquakes are caused by the earths shifting tectonic plates, but Eastern Canada is not located on top two meeting plates so what causes the earthquakes here? This is a very good question and is still not fully understood. Canada is part of the stable interior of the North American Plate making seismic activity in the area a little strange. However, it is thought that earthquakes occurring in areas like these are caused by regional stress fields where the earth’s crust is a little weaker.
Don’t worry there is no need to fear! Earthquakes are a very natural occurrence. Just think of it like the earth is readjusting!