Earthquakes: Information & Facts

A road destroyed by an earthquake

There are approximately 4,000 earthquakes across Canada each year.

Earthquakes can damage infrastructure, destroy buildings, cause power outages, displace communities, and even lead to fatalities. 

Preparing for Earthquakes: Before, During and After 

Earthquake Basics 

Earthquakes are a tremor or shaking of the earth’s surface caused by shifting rock beneath the surface. Earthquakes are measured by the intensity of the seismic activity on a scale of 1 to 10. Any quake with a magnitude below 3 will hardly be felt and will not cause damage, while a magnitude of 7 or higher would cause significant damage to large, sturdy buildings.

The earthquake’s epicentre is the point where the quake originates -- this usually occurs along the boundaries of tectonic plates. If an earthquake’s epicentre is beneath the seabed, it can also lead to a tsunami. 

Most earthquakes in Canada are relatively small, but in the last 100 years, there have been at least nine earthquakes with a magnitude greater than 7. In a dense urban area, a strong quake could cause immense destruction. 

Earthquakes in Canada are most common along the three coasts, the Pacific, the Arctic, and the Atlantic. Therefore, the regions most at risk of earthquakes are the coast of British Columbia, the St. Lawrence River and the Ottawa River valley, and in certain parts of the three northern territories.

All levels of government have plans to protect communities during earthquakes. Keep your family as safe as possible by being prepared and making a plan.

Earthquake warning systems are in place in many communities to notify the surrounding region that a quake is about to reach the earth’s surface. You can also stay up to date on all small and large earthquakes across the country at Earthquakes Canada

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Get an Emergency Kit

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Coping with Crisis

Learn how to recover emotionally from a disaster or emergency.

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