Earthquake rattles Ottawa to Toronto

Added by on May 17, 2013

Map indicating the approximate location of an earthquake that occurred in southern Ontario, Canada.

Map indicating the approximate location of an earthquake that occurred in southern Ontario, Canada.

An earthquake measured at magnitude as high as 5.2, rattled the Canadian province of Ontario on Friday at 09:43 (13:43GMT/UTC). The earthquake was reported to be measured between 4.4 and 5.2 with the USGS reporting it being felt as far away as Michigan, USA.

The epicentre was located just outside Gatineau in the province of Quebec – Gatineau is located 67km from Ottawa, Canada’s capital city.

“The earthquake lasted approximately 15 seconds,” said a Canadian environmental official.

Residents between Ottawa and Toronto, Canada’s largest city, reported the earthquake moved things in their homes and offices.

“I heard a rumbling sound and my house and the things in it. I have things on my kitchen counters – they started to move, the plants in my house started to shake. The water in my aquarium moved around and my fish got really nervous,” said a resident of Richmond Hill, a suburb of Toronto.

Some residents said they saw the ground shaking, although these reports have not been confirmed.

Less than 10 minutes after the earthquake, a 3.6-magnitude aftershock was also recorded.

No injuries or damage is reported. Experts say damage and injuries are expected for earthquakes measuring 5.5 or greater.

The USGS reported the earthquake’s epicentre was located approximately 9.8 km (6 miles) below ground 25km NNE of Shawville, Canada. Earthquakes with epicentres deep below the surface are felt over much larger areas compared to epicentres located near the surface.

The USGS downgraded the magnitude of the earthquake to 4.4 at approximately 10:30 (14:30GMT/UTC).

The southern Ontario region has a low to moderate level of seismic activity. An average of 2-3 minor earthquakes measuring 2.5 or larger have been recorded during the past 30 years.

According to Natural Resources Canada the causes of earthquakes in eastern Canada are not well understood because there are no tectonic plates in the region.

According to the Natural Resources Canada website, “Eastern Canada is part of the stable interior of the North American Plate. Seismic activity in areas like these seems to be related to the regional stress fields, with the earthquakes concentrated in regions of crustal weakness”

A magnitude 5.0 earthquake occourred within the same region during June 2010. An earthquake measuring about 6.0 occurred in the region in 1935.