Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Quake shakes southern Canada

A map of Ontario highlighting OttawaImage via Wikipedia

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    (CNN) -- An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.0 struck Wednesday in southern Canada, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
    The quake struck at 1:41 p.m. ET near the borders of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, about 38 miles north of the city of Ottawa, the USGS said. It was centered about 12 miles deep. The USGS initially assigned it a preliminary magnitude of 5.5.
    Ottawa police told CNN that several buildings in the city were evacuated. An operator at the Ottawa Hospital said the quake was felt for about 30 seconds.
    Sgt. Marc LaPorte, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told CNN that it was a "slight tremor" and there "doesn't appear to be any damage reported to date yet."
    Video: Quake shakes news conference RELATED TOPICS
    There were no reports of major damage in downtown Ottawa, said Barre Campbell, spokesman for the city of Ottawa.

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    "The two first quakes were like an explosion — I flew out the door," Nontell said. "We still have power and there is no damage, but the telephones are down. Almost all our employees are volunteer firefighters who are on the radio responding to questions."
    At Carleton University, earthquake expert Brian Cousens knew after a of couple of seconds that this was an earthquake. He ducked for cover.
    "I lived in California for four years and this one made me go for the doorway. In an earthquake you want to be in a door frame because it's framed and it's the most rigid part," he said. "You don't want to be in my office with cases of rocks and books to fall on you.
    "This is the first time since I've been here, since 1990, that anything has sent me to a door frame. This seemed to last 15 or 20 seconds. Half a minute maybe."

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    "Mostly the earthquakes we get around her are magnitude four or 3.5. You feel them if you're close to the epicentre, but as soon as you get a few kilometres away you don't feel as much. And that's because there's not as much stress built up.
    "To get the 5.5 it means that something was locked for a longer time, and that allowed more stress to build up. Then when it gave way, much more energy was released."
    This region has a series of faults all along the Ottawa, St. Lawrence and Bonnechere Valleys, he said. That's why the Ontario shoreline is well below the Gatineau Hills.

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