Collection of great northern Alberta earthquakes felt in Edmonton, Grande Prairie and BC

This image shows the approximate location of a 5.2-magnitude earthquake reported in northern Alberta Tuesday. (Earthquakes Canada – image credit)

Potentially three of the largest earthquakes ever recorded in Alberta were reported in northern Alberta Tuesday.

According to Earthquakes Canada, three seismic events were recorded Tuesday: a 5.8-magnitude quake and two 5.2-magnitude quakes.

“A series of earthquakes has occurred in northwestern Alberta. The largest, a M 5.8 earthquake, was preceded by two M5.2 earthquakes, and followed by several felt events,” reads a post on the Earthquakes Canada website.

A 5.0-magnitude aftershock was also detected around 7:55 pm MT.

Joseph Farrugia, seismic analyst with Natural Resources Canada, said a 5.8-magnitude quake is strong enough to potentially cause damage but there haven’t been any reports of damage so far.

“Alberta is no stranger to earthquakes but earthquakes in Alberta don’t tend to be this high,” said Farrugia. “This is certainly one of the largest earthquakes that occurred in Alberta … it’s uncommon and certainly scary for people who live in the area.”

Farrugia said smaller aftershocks are possible in the area over the next few days, though they won’t all be felt.

Earthquake reports are often revised. The 5.8 quake was previously reported as a 6.0. Still, a 5.8 earthquake would be the strongest natural earthquake ever reported in Alberta. Farrugia said Tuesday’s reporting is still preliminary, but a revised number should be available in the next day.

The province’s strongest natural earthquake — a magnitude 5.4 — occurred in April 2001 near the Alberta-BC border, about 40 km northeast of Dawson Creek, BC

A report posted by Earthquakes Canada pits the location of a 5.2-earthquake about 29 kilometers east-northeast of the hamlet of Reno, Alta., which is about 360 kilometers northwest of Edmonton in the Peace River region and 200 kilometers northeast of Dawson Creek, B.C

The depth of the quake was estimated to be four kilometers and it occurred around 4:45 pm

A second, more significant quake was recorded around 5:55 pm Tuesday near Reno. It has been reported to be a magnitude 5.8 and occurred at a depth of two kilometers.

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According to Earthquakes Canada’s website, the event would have been “strongly felt in the surrounding area.” Reports from citizens on the earthquake show it was also felt in Edmonton, Calgary and Fort McMurray as well as other communities in Alberta and northern BC

“The geology east of the Rocky Mountains is such that it favors the transmission of seismic energy much more easily than in the Rocky Mountains and in BC where the geology is pretty complicated,” said Farrugia.

“So it’s not surprising that this earthquake would be felt at great distances.”

Carmen Langer, a farmer in Three Creeks, Alta., lives in the region and says his house shook throughout the day.

“I was coming up my stairs from downstairs and I felt really weird on the stairs,” he said. “And then I come up and got in my kitchen and things were shaking and [the] chandelier was moving and lamps are moving.”

Before Tuesday’s earthquakes, at least three other events were recorded in the Reno, Alta. Area within the last week — two 4.1 magnitude quakes and one that measured as 4.5 magnitude.

A representative for the Alberta Energy Regulator’s geological branch said Tuesday’s seismic events are being investigated.

“Our initial investigation reveals an event at 5:55 pm with a magnitude of 5.59 and a depth of approximately six kilometers,” said spokesperson Lauren Stewart in an email.

“Due to the nature of earthquakes, we expect that aftershocks in this area are likely.

“We are continuing to investigate and will provide more information as it becomes available.”

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