3.9-magnitude Banff earthquake ‘not unusual’ for Rocky Mountain region: Seismologist

A Canadian seismologist said the 3.9 magnitude earthquake that hit the Banff, Alta., area on Saturday evening was not unusual but was more noticeable than what is usually experienced there.

“It’s a decent earthquake for that area,” Taimi Mulder, an earthquake seismologist with the Geological Survey of Canada, said.

“There’s a couple of earthquakes a year along the Rocky Mountains, and this is not unusual to have an earthquake, but it certainly is a bit larger one than we normally get in the Rockies.”

The earthquake, which occurred at 6:33 p.m. MT and was also felt in Canmore, was recognized at a 3.9 magnitude by Canadian officials. It was also reported as 4.4 magnitude by the United States Geological Survey.

Read more: Earthquake hits Banff region

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Canada uses a different set of seismic stations that are closer to the town, providing a more accurate number, Mulder said.

“We will get different magnitude estimates,” she said. “Ours are more accurate because they’re closer.”

The town of Banff said on social media Saturday evening that there was no significant damage reported in relation to the quake.

Mulder said that the earthquake was considered “shallow.”

“This is still classified as a light earthquake in the world of earthquake seismology,” she said, but added it was still likely noticeable to residents. “A magnitude four is 10 times more shaking, more ground displacement than a magnitude three.

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“It’s large enough to be felt. Most people felt a big bang or a rattle.”

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Earthquake hits Banff region: officials

Mulder added that earthquakes in mountain regions are common.

“Where there are mountains, you have tectonic activity — that’s how the mountains were built,” Mulder said. “So having earthquakes in mountainous regions is very common.”

Alberta experienced 605 earthquakes between 1985 and 2011 — compared to just 41 in Saskatchewan during the same time.

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