Vancouver residents have long known they reside in a region that, at least over the long term, is prone to earthquakes. Now a UBC researcher’s findings suggest the situation is even more precarious than previously understood.
The problem is an “earthquake nest”, according to an August 27 paper published in the Seismological Society of America’s GeoScienceWorld journal.
Reid Merrill, a PhD student at UBC’s department of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, and professor Michael Bostock, studied an “isolated cluster of temporally persistent, intraslab earthquakes” located about 50 kilometres northwest of Vancouver, off the Sunshine Coast near Sechelt.
Their articles identifies the region as a major fault line that could trigger a 6.0-magnitude earthquake.
Natural Resources Canada describes a tremor of that size as capable of causing “damage to poorly constructed buildings and other structures in areas up to about 100 kilometers across where people live”.
Merrill has noted the earthquake nest’s location means the extent of damage could be quite severe.
"A 20-kilometre long fault, if it were to rupture in its entirety, would be the equivalent of a greater than magnitude 6.0 earthquake, where the size of the fault is directly related to the magnitude of the event," Merrill told CBC News.
"The epicentre would be much closer to these metropolitan areas like Nanaimo and Vancouver and Sechelt,” he added. “In some ways these earthquakes…can be more dangerous than the megathrust or the big one."