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TitleEarthquake waves: large earthquakes on the Atlantic coast? Yes - Newfoundland, 1929
AuthorCassidy, JORCID logo
SourceCanadian Association for Earthquake Engineering Newsletter vol. 6, issue 4, 2021 p. 2-3 Open Access logo Open Access
LinksOnline - En ligne (complete volume - volume complet, 209 KB)
LinksThe Tsunami of 1929
Alt SeriesNatural Resources Canada, Contribution Series 20210464
PublisherCanadian Association for Earthquake Engineering
Mediadigital; on-line
File formatpdf
ProvinceEastern offshore region; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; New Brunswick; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Ontario
NTS1; 2; 10; 11; 12; 20; 21; 22; 30N; 31B; 31C; 31F; 31G; 31H; 31I; 31J; 31K; 31N; 31O; 31P; 32A; 32B; 32H
AreaIsland of Newfoundland; Grand Banks of Newfoundland; Atlantic Ocean; Canada; United States of America
Lat/Long WENS -77.0000 -50.0000 52.0000 39.0000
Subjectsgeophysics; tectonics; marine geology; Science and Technology; Nature and Environment; Health and Safety; earthquakes; earthquake magnitudes; earthquake damage; tsunami; landslides; slumps; history; seismology; seismic data; aftershocks; continental margins; continental shelf; continental slope; coastal environment; models; 1929 M7.2 Grand Banks Earthquake; Laurentian Slope; Infrastructures; Communications equipment; Buildings; Death rate
Illustrationsgeoscientific sketch maps
ProgramPublic Safety Geoscience Assessing Earthquake Geohazards
Released2021 10 01
Canada has remained quiet in terms of significant earthquakes during the past few months. As a result, this column will again highlight a significant historic Canadian earthquake - this one along the Atlantic coast. At 5:02 p.m. (Newfoundland time) on November 18, 1929, a M7.2 earthquake occurred approximately 250 km south of Newfoundland along the southern edge of the Grand Banks. This earthquake was felt as far away as New York and Ottawa (both ~1500 km distant). A number of chimneys were damaged or destroyed on Cape Breton Island (~350 km distant), items were knocked from shelves and some highways were blocked by minor landslides. A few aftershocks (some as large as magnitude 6) were felt in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland but caused no damage. The most significant and deadly impact of this earthquake was the triggering of a large submarine slump (an estimated volume of 200 cubic kilometres of material was moved on the Laurentian slope) which ruptured 12 transatlantic cables in multiple places and generated a large tsunami. Southern Newfoundland (especially the Burin Peninsula) bore the brunt of the tsunami, some homes were washed out to sea and 28 people were killed. Run-up heights of 13+ m were observed in some Newfoundland communities (details at: The tsunami was recorded along the eastern seaboard as far south as South Carolina, and across the Atlantic in Portugal. Some minor tsunami damage was reported in Bermuda. This earthquake serves as another reminder that rare, damaging earthquakes strike even in those parts of Canada that we don't generally associate with earthquakes (like the Atlantic coast). It is also a reminder of the 'secondary effects' of earthquakes - it is not just ground shaking that causes damage, but tsunami impacts, liquefaction, landslides, and more. 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 newsletter column summarizes the 1929 M7.2 offshore Newfound earthquake and tsunami. This is a reminder for the engineering community of large damaging earthquakes in areas of Canada that don't often experience earthquakes.

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