cutremur la Vancouver
- The Big One stalks Vancouver
CAROLINE ALPHONSO AND ROBERT MATAS
With reports from Canadian Press
Thursday, March 1, 2001
VANCOUVER -- British Columbia residents got a
preview of the
big one yesterday.
The earth shook and walls trembled in what was
reminder of a giant quake that's some day
expected to rock the
Pacific Coast when two of the Earth's plates
Yesterday's rumble -- resulting from the most
powerful quake to
hit the region in more than 50 years -- is a
wake-up call for
residents who live with the constant threat of
Emergency officials, who were inundated with
calls, say they are
ready for whatever disaster strikes.
"I think we were more prepared than we were a
year ago," said
Bob Bugslag, deputy director of the provincial
program. "We still have a long ways to go
Coincidentally, when the earthquake hit, a
group of emergency
personnel was meeting to plan an exercise
session for today.
Recent earthquakes in other parts of the world,
such as India
and El Salvador, have drawn the attention of
B.C. residents and
driven them to get the answers they need in
case a quake hits
at home, Mr. Bugslag said.
Yesterday's earthquake, centred 60 kilometres
south of Seattle
near Olympia, had a magnitude of 6.8 and shook
Southern British Columbia.
The tremor, which seemed to last only a few
seconds, felt like a
gentle shaking in downtown Vancouver and a
forceful rattle in
the suburbs. It was felt as far east as Trail
in Southeastern B.C.
Residents, who are used to minor tremors, said
it was the most
powerful they have experienced.
Cheri Caleb, who works on the eighth floor of a
downtown Vancouver, said one of her co-workers
two others dived under their desks when the
"The plants were moving, the blinds were
swinging back and
forth and there was a rolling feeling," Ms.
Caleb said. "It was
weird because the building was moving. You
'Oh my gosh, I'm just not prepared for this.' "
Unlike Seattle -- where there were fallen
power outages, one death and major injuries --
no casualties or
significant damages were reported in British
"It was a surprise, but it's keeping us aware
happen," said Carlos Ventura, a professor and
the director of the
earthquake engineering research facility at the
British Columbia. "We're not entirely safe from
They can happen at any moment."
The tremor was not enough to destroy any
Vancouver. Although most newer ones comply with
provisions in building codes, many buildings in
area predate the codes, and are not necessarily
withstand an earthquake.
Many British Columbians, who have lived for
earthquake preparedness tests, took the tremor
"There was no panic in the street," government
Gaul said. He was in his ninth-floor office in
and headed down the stairs when a door started
was enough for me."
Prof. Ventura said residents should be aware
that there may be
aftershocks in the next 48 hours.
The very things that attract people to British
Columbia, such as
the scenic mountains that backdrop the Pacific
geological indicators of an active earthquake
The earthquake, which struck just before 11
a.m. Pacific time,
originated in the Juan de Fuca plate, just
southeast of Victoria
under the Pacific Ocean.
That is where two geological plates -- the
North American plate
and the Juan de Fuca plate -- rub up against
each other, causing
hundreds of minor earthquakes each year along
The pressure is building as the Juan de Fuca
plate continues its
slide underneath the North American plate.
pressure will cause a major quake, called a
earthquake, which Prof. Ventura said could be
as high as 9 in
magnitude. These huge earthquakes happen every
200 to 600
years. The last subduction earthquake in the
area was in 1700.