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TitleEarthquake waves: a most unusual earthquake
AuthorCassidy, J FORCID logo
SourceCanadian Association for Earthquake Engineering Newsletter vol. 6, issue 3, 2021 p. 1-2 Open Access logo Open Access
LinksOnline - En ligne (complete volume - volume complet, PDF, 89 KB)
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20210211
PublisherCanadian Association of Earthquake Engineers
Mediadigital; on-line
File formatpdf
NTS62; 63; 72; 73; 82; 83
AreaMontana; Canada; United States of America
Lat/Long WENS-114.0000 -96.0000 53.0000 46.0000
Subjectsgeophysics; Science and Technology; Nature and Environment; Health and Safety; earthquakes; earthquake magnitudes; earthquake damage; seismology; seismicity; models; 16 May 1909 Northern Great Plains Earthquake
ProgramPublic Safety Geoscience Assessing Earthquake Geohazards
Released2021 07 01
In terms of significant earthquakes, all has been quiet across Canada during the past few months. In this column, I highlight another one of Canada's interesting historic earthquakes. This one occurred in a part of Canada where we generally don't see earthquakes - especially earthquakes large enough to cause damage. In 1909, a M~5.3 earthquake struck the Saskatchewan-Montana border region on May 15th, a Saturday night, at 10:15 p.m. local time. This rare, Prairie earthquake was felt across Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, parts of Ontario, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming - an area of more than 1.5 million km3. The closest Canadian communities include Estevan and Regina, SK (180-190 km) and shaking was felt at Lethbridge, AB (550 km), Prince Albert, SK (490 km), Winnipeg, MB (610 km) and even as far as St. Paul, Minnesota (1000 km). There were no reports of structural damage, but some windows were broken, items were knocked from shelves, and many people were extremely frightened and ran from buildings (even as far away as Winnipeg). For many decades, both the magnitude of this earthquake and its location were not well known. A detailed study published in 2011 used two instrumental recordings from Europe, as well as a re-evaluation of felt intensities and modern seismicity to determine a preferred magnitude of M5.3 (M5-5.7 at a 95% confidence level) and a location of 48.81° N, 105.38° W (just south of the Saskatchewan-Montana border). This location places the earthquake within a 300-km-long northeast-southwest trending band of low-level seismicity, suggesting a region of higher seismic hazard. You can find additional information on this earthquake here: This earthquake serves as a reminder that rare, potentially damaging (and certainly frightening) earthquakes can, and do, strike even in those parts of Canada that we don't generally associate with earthquakes. Lessons learned from rare earthquakes such as this one, have been incorporated into our seismic hazard models and National Building codes - but we still have much to learn.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
This short article provides a summary of a damaging earthquake in Saskatchewan in 1909. The article describes the impacts of this earthquake, and notes that it serves as a reminder of rare, damaging earthquakes in parts of Canada not generally associated with earthquakes.

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