UPDATED: Earthquake jolts B.C., lights up social media

Magnitude 4.7 quake centred east of Sidney widely felt in Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island

Earthquake location.

Many B.C. residents were jolted awake late Tuesday night by a small earthquake that briefly rattled homes across much of Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland.

The magnitude 4.7 quake at 11:39 p.m. was centred about eight kilometres east of Sidney, between Victoria and Vancouver, according to Earthquakes Canada. (It was initially registered as a 4.3 but upgraded to 4.7 on Wednesday.)

The shaker lasted for just several seconds but stirred fears that it could just be the start of a much more serious quake, or might be followed by significant aftershocks. Neither scenario materialized. Nor was any tsunami warning issued.

Social media was deluged with individual reports of what the quake felt like, with some saying they first thought a vehicle slammed into their home.

Natural Resources Canada said it had received no reports of significant damage and none would be expected.

Many people felt their beds shake, heard dressers or windows rattle, and many small objects in homes were tipped over.

Security camera video of the quake’s effects in Langley.

SFU geologist Brent Ward, who chairs the university’s earth sciences department, said it was a crustal earthquake about 50 to 60 kilometres beneath the surface.

Crustal quakes are much more common and closer to populated areas than massive 8.0-plus subduction zone quakes – often dubbed the Big One – that strike every few hundred years well off the west coast and would cause far-reaching damage.

“Of a bigger concern are these crustal earthquakes because we get them in a much higher frequency,” Ward said.

He said larger crustal quakes than last night’s – in the 6 to 7 range – hit every 50 or 60 years in B.C. and the next one could be severe if it’s closer to the surface and near large numbers of people.

“If it was only 10 kilometres deep the shaking would have been a lot more intense,” Ward said.

A 7.2 crustal quake near Courtenay in 1946 caused extensive landslides, soil liquefaction and damage to brick buildings.

Ward noted B.C.’s population at risk is much larger now.

“You can imagine if we got a 7.2 earthquake underneath a populated part of Vancouver Island, there would be significant damage and there would definitely be fatalities.”

When B.C. released its new earthquake response plan earlier this year it did not model its worst-case scenario on a megathrust subduction zone quake, but rather shallow crustal earthquakes directly under our big cities.

The result: an estimated 10,000 dead in Metro Vancouver, 128,000 seriously injured and 30 per cent of buildings receiving extensive damage in the event of a 7.3 magnitude crustal quake directly beneath Vancouver.

A similar scenario of a 7.0 quake beneath Victoria yielded an estimate of up to 1,500 dead and 19,000 injured.

People in different communities and neighbourhoods will feel the shaking of an earthquake differently because of the underlying material.

Ward said he didn’t even wake up because there’s bedrock not far below his house in Coquitlam, while his niece in Langley on loose sediment soil felt intense shaking.

“Places like Richmond, Delta and Langley – areas where there’s thick sediments – those are going to feel the earthquake a lot more because the shaking is more intense.”

RELATED: Earthquake on Vancouver Island felt throughout Fraser Valley and beyondEarthquake shakes Victoria

B.C.’s quake followed a 4.4 magnitude earthquake in Southern California that is not believed to be linked.

Tuesday’s tremor was the biggest quake to be felt in the Lower Mainland since a 6.8 quake rocked Washington State in 2001, causing some property damage in Seattle.

The two largest quakes ever recorded in B.C. have both been centred near Haida Gwaii – an 8.1 magnitude quake in 1949 that remains Canada’s strongest since 1700, and a 7.7 quake in 2012.

TransLink shut down the Expo and Millennium SkyTrain lines briefly to verify there was no damage to the rapid transit system.

No area bridges or tunnels were closed as a result of the quake. The province has sensors at each end of the Massey Tunnel that detect the initial wave of a quake and activate signs warning drivers not to enter.

Agencies including Emergency Management B.C. are urging residents to treat the event as a wake-up call and prepare earthquake kits for the potential of a more serious quake in the future.

Everyone should have food, water and other supplies to survive 72 hours unassisted in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Emergency kits are recommended for home, the workplace and your vehicle – see the PreparedBC site for details and more ideas on how to get ready.

Community Intensity Reports via Earthquakes Canada

Just Posted

Rollover crash on Langley’s 200th Street

A two-vehicle collision flipped one car.

VIDEO: Langley BMX racers propel pumpkins down their track

Once the standard race day was over, riders let a series of gourds roll down their Brookswood track.

Fort Langley wakes up to a flower bombing

A team from a village floral shop wanted to do a beautification project.

Six-month wait for marijuana retail in Langley Township

Councils in City and Township have not yet drafted retail pot rules.

ELECTION: Langley School Board a mix of incumbents and newcomers

Seven people were elected to oversee the public schools of Langley.

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

Ovechkin has 4 points as Caps rough up Canucks 5-2

WATCH: Defending champs pick up impressive win in Vancouver

Vancouver mayoral hopefuly admits defeat, congratulates winner Kennedy Stewart

Ken Sim of the Non-Partisan Association apologized for the time it took to acknowledge Stewart won

Mental fitness questioned of man charged in Chilliwack River Valley shooting

Peter Kampos told his lawyer ‘his dreams are being stolen and turned into drugs’ at Surrey Pre-trial

Fraser Valley mom stuck in Africa over adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran have been waiting four weeks to bring son home

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

Most Read