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1982: Earthquake shakes up East Coast

The Story

During a very "shaky" interview with a University of New Brunswick geographer, the effects of the second tremor in today's Miramichi earthquake are captured on film in this CBC News clip. The initial earthquake began just before 9 a.m., reportedly registering at a magnitude of 5.9 and lasting 30 seconds. The second large tremor -- considered to be a strong aftershock -- occurs three and a half hours later. If this morning's earthquake had happened in a major urban centre, the aftermath might have included injuries, damaged buildings and possibly even death. Luckily, it occurred in a remote forested area of Miramichi, N.B., so the only real damage is a few cracks in the pavement or on walls in nearby towns.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Jan. 9, 1982
Guest(s): Charles Viger, Gary Whiteford
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Justin De Beaucamp
Duration: 2:34

Did You know?

• The epicentre of the 1982 earthquake was in Miramichi, but tremors were felt throughout the Maritime Provinces, Quebec and the New England States.

• The initial quake was followed by a long series of aftershocks. Two of these -- the one occurring later that same day, as well as another one two days later -- were almost as strong as the initial earthquake.

• Although news reports on Jan. 9, 1982 said Miramichi's initial tremor had a magnitude of 5.9, official government reports later recorded its magnitude at 5.7.

• An earthquake's "magnitude" essentially means the amount of energy released during the quake.

• Humans probably wouldn't feel a tremor with a magnitude of less than 2.5. Minor vibrations would be felt at 4.0. Earthquakes registering 6.0 could cause injuries and property damage (depending on the location) and quakes of 7.0 or higher often result in casualties and destruction. The strongest recorded earthquake to date occurred in Chile in 1960, with a magnitude of 9.5. A 7.0 is ten times as powerful as a 6.0, and a 6.0 is ten times as powerful as a 5.0.

• As many as 1,000 earthquakes happen in Canada each year, but these usually have a magnitude of less than 3.0.

• Canada's largest recorded earthquake had a magnitude of 8.1. It happened in 1949 on the Queen Charlotte Fault, which runs along the west coast of British Columbia's Queen Charlotte Islands. Chimneys toppled, cars on the road were bounced around, windows were shattered, buildings swayed and an oil tank at Cumshewa Inlet collapsed.

Also on January 9:
1889: The Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge dislodges during a ferocious storm and within hours crashes into the river below.
1927: Seventy-seven children die in a fire at the Laurier Palace theatre in Montreal.
1953: Quebec widow Marguerite Pitre is hanged in Montreal for her part in a plot to bomb a Canadian DC3. All 23 people aboard died when the plane exploded over Sault-au Cochons, Que. on Sept. 9, 1949. Pitre's brother, Albert Guay, and another man were also hanged for the death of Guay's wife, a passenger on the plane.


Canada's Earthquakes and Tsunamis more