Earthquake shakes Red Deer region

By Gary McKinnon and Sheldon Spackman
March 4, 2019 - 7:41am Updated: March 5, 2019 - 4:52pm

RED DEER- Local residents were shaken out of bed Monday morning by a 4.6 magnitude earthquake. 

Earthquakes Canada recorded the earthquake at 5:55 a.m. The location was 19 kilometres west of Red Deer (revised from earlier reports) but was felt over a large area of central Alberta.

The quake was about a kilometre beneath the surface.

So far, there have been no reports of damage or injuries.

Joanne Gaudet, communications officer for Sylvan Lake, says the power went out in most of the town. 

Gaudet said there has been seismic activity in the past between Sylvan Lake and the community of Rocky Mountain House.

In June 2015, the Rocky Mountain House area experienced a 3.5 magnitude quake. A 4.3 magnitude earthquake struck near Rocky in August 2014.

The U.S. Geological Survey website says an earthquake similar to the one that struck this morning has a sensation like a heavy truck striking a building that can rattle windows and may break some dishes or windows.

Taimi Mulder, earthquake seismologist with the Geological Survey of Canada – Natural Resources Canada, says at this point in time, they believe the earthquake to be associated with the tectonic activities of the foothills of the Rockies.

“While these earthquakes are not frequent, they certainly have not been unheard of,” she explains. “This happens to be a bit larger than usual. Usually we’ve had a few in the magnitude 3.0 range, so this is a bit bigger than that.”

The Alberta Energy Regulator says a hydraulic fracturing company conducting activity in the area of the earthquake when it occurred has since stopped.

Calgary-based Vesta Energy reported seismic activity to the AER at about 6:20 a.m.

“We are currently reviewing the events to determine if the incident is due to hydraulic fracturing activities or natural causes,” AER spokesperson Natalie Brodych tells rdnewsNOW.

“At this time, there have been no reported impacts to public safety, infrastructure, or the environment.”

Mulder anticipates they’ll learn more about the earthquake in the coming days.

“I wouldn’t expect there to be any damage from 4.6,” she declares. “People have reported feeling a sharp shock, they’ve reported things rattling and swaying. There’s possibilities things may have fallen off shelves or from up high and broken but other than that, for damage, I wouldn’t expect anything.”

However, Mulder points out a certain sound people have reported in connection with this earthquake.

“It’s more like sort of a rambling noise people have been describing,” she describes. “It’s possible some people may to them hear like a train. These are very common noises that you can hear associated with an earthquake, not every time but it’s not at all unusual.”

She says reports of the earthquake have come from numerous communities, including Red Deer, Sylvan Lake, Penhold, Springbrook, Lacombe, Benalto, Leslieville and Blackfalds, with most according to Mulder coming from Sylvan Lake and Red Deer.

“There’s no reason for me to think at this point in time that their might be another earthquake or aftershocks,” admits Mulder. “We don’t often see that in your area, there doesn’t tend to be aftershocks in your region. Looking back at past events, I wouldn’t expect to see much more in the upcoming days, weeks or months.”

Mulder estimates an earthquake of this magnitude only hits our region once every 10-20 years.

“This is a great reminder to be prepared for any type of natural disaster,” she exclaims. “So get your earthquake kits out or your emergency preparedness kits and make sure that you have some canned food, food that doesn’t go bad and some water. Be prepared for power outages and the normal things that might happen during the winter.”

Mulder encourages anyone who may have felt the earthquake, to report their experience on the Earthquakes Canada website.

Scott Schreiner, vice president of communications for Altalink confirms the power went out for roughly 4,600 Fortis Alberta customers, affecting all of Sylvan Lake and the surrounding area for about an hour and a half before being fully restored just before 7:30 a.m.


(Gary McKinnon, Sheldon Spackman - With file from The Canadian Press) 

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