Power restored after 4.3-magnitude earthquake hits western Alberta

A 4.3-magnitude earthquake hit the Rocky Mountain House area in western Alberta around 9:30 a.m. MT Saturday.

No reports of injuries or property damage

A 4.3-magnitude earthquake hit near Rocky Mountain House in central Alberta Saturday morning but there are no reports of damage. (Google Maps)

A 4.3-magnitude earthquake hit an area in western Alberta Saturday morning, according to Natural Resources Canada.  

The agency's earthquake monitoring website says the earthquake hit at 9:28 a.m. MT and was lightly felt in Rocky Mountain House, a town of roughly 7,000 people that is located west of Red Deer between Edmonton and Calgary.

"There are no reports of damage, and none would be expected," the agency said on its website.

Clearwater County, the municipal district to which Rocky Mountain House belongs, issued a statement on its website saying that it had been made aware of the earthquake by the provincial operations centre of the Alberta Emergency Management Agency.

Power was interrupted at a substation, which caused a shutdown at a gas plant near Rocky Mountain House, causing about 500 customers to lose power.

No risk to public during gas flare

AltaLink spokesperson Scott Schreiner said the substation locked out to prevent a surge or other damage on the system, and that power was restored about two hours later.

Keyera Corp., which operates the Strachan gas plant, said the facility flared off excess gas when it lost power, but there was no damage.

Julie Puddell, a spokesperson for Keyera, said the gas was flared as a safety measure. She said Alberta Environment was contacted for air quality monitoring.

Ted Hickey, the director of community and protective services for Clearwater County, said there was no risk to the public during the flaring.

Hickey said there were no reports of damage from the quake.

He said some people reported feeling the earth shaking, but noted that he didn't feel it at all.

Magnitude of quake unusual for Alberta

Although earthquakes are rare in Alberta, they do occur, said Honn Kao with the Geological Survey of Canada.

“Most people actually don’t feel it and therefore they seem to get the impression that Alberta is seismically inactive, which is actually not true,” Kao said. “We have detected enough small earthquakes in Alberta, especially in the areas close to the Rocky Mountains."

Since 1985, fewer than 15 earthquakes above a magnitude 3 have been recorded anywhere in Alberta, according to the Alberta Geological Survey's website.

There has been an increase in small earthquake activity since the 1960s, the organization says.

Earthquakes Canada recorded 471 earthquakes in the province between 1985 and 2010 and the Alberta Geological Survey says the vast majority of those have been natural.

However, the organization says some of them may have been triggered by oil and gas production.

With files from The Canadian Press