This article was written by Paul Mayne and originally published on The University of Western Ontario’s Western News Web site, June 23, 2010.
June 25, 2010 – The 5.0 magnitude earthquake that hit a large portion of Ontario on June 23 acted as a great case study for Earth Sciences professors Kristy Tiampo and Gail Atkinson, both from The University of Western Ontario.
Drs. Atkinson (who holds the Canada Research Chair in Earthquake Hazards and Ground Motions) and Tiampo (who holds the NSERC and Benfield/ICLR Industrial Research Chair in Earthquake Hazard Assessment) are part of a nationwide study looking at seismic hazards and, along with students, recently completed a number of studies in the Ottawa area.
“This is a great case study for us to really ‘ground truth’ a lot of what we thought would happen,” says Dr. Tiampo, thankful there were no injuries reported from the earthquake.
“We have spent a lot of time and energy on this. We have students here looking at scenario earthquakes and what will happen if particular kinds of earthquakes happen in Ottawa. So that is really good for us.”
The 10-15 second earthquake was felt in areas stretching from Ottawa and Quebec into the U.S. states of Ohio and Michigan. According to the United States Geological Survey, the earthquake began at 1:41 p.m. and was centred 33 miles northeast of Ottawa near Buckingham, Quebec.
Dr. Tiampo says an earthquake of this magnitude may cause brick cracking, falling bricks or cracks in walls, but only in areas near the epicentre. As far as who did or didn’t feel the earthquake, she says it depends on the structure an individual would be in and the soil the building was built on.
“My sister lives in Detroit and she didn’t feel it, but apparently some people in Michigan have,” she says.
While southwestern Ontario has had its share of minor tremors over the years, Dr. Tiampo says this magnitude of earthquake is uncommon. The most recent one she can recall was a 5.2 magnitude earthquake in 2002 centred in northern Vermont.