Every earthquake felt in Canada from 1985

CBC has mapped all the earthquakes since 1985 of magnitude 4 and higher that were felt in Canada, using the seismic bulletin data from the National Earthquake Database.

Majority of earthquakes in the country are felt on the West Coast

While many on B.C.'s South Coast were jolted out of their beds on Dec. 29 by a magnitude 4.8 earthquake, it certainly wasn't unusual. 

In fact, it was one of 300 earthquakes of magnitude 4 and higher that have been felt in Canada since 1985 to Dec. 31, 2015. 

CBC has mapped all those earthquakes, using the seismic bulletin data from the National Earthquake Database. 

Click the play button to start the animation.

Once the timelapse ends, click on individual bubbles to see more detailed information about that earthquake. The larger the bubble, the greater the magnitude of the earthquake.

Where the earthquakes are felt

The majority of the earthquakes in Canada occur off the West Coast where two tectonic plates — the Juan de Fuca plate and the Pacific Ocean plate  — clash with the North American plate upon which Canada rests.

However the earthquakes in Ontario and Quebec are of a different variety, says CBC meteorologist and seismologist Johanna Wagstaffe. 

Unlike the pushing and clashing of the tectonic plates on the West Coast, the eastern quakes are usually the result of old, reactivated faults or elastic rebound of the earth from the Ice Age.

Wagstaffe added that an earthquake in eastern Canada would be felt much further than its epicentre compared to earthquakes in B.C., because the Canadian shield does not dampen the effect of the tremors. 

The Big One

Scientists have been warning that a massive megathrust earthquake could strike B.C. at any time.

Predicting earthquakes is a difficult proposition at the best of times, but British Columbia is particularly challenging with the extensive network of fault lines that spread like a matrix across the province.

This is what the fault lines look like mapped across the province.