New Brunswick

3.8 magnitude earthquake hits area near Grand Bay-Westfield

Earthquakes Canada confirms a 3.8 magnitude earthquake hit an area 19 kilometres northwest of Saint John in southern New Brunswick.

Earthquakes Canada says quake hit the province at 9:49 a.m. AT

Earthquakes Canada confirmed the quake Thursday morning hit an area 17 km northwest of Hampton, N.B. (CBC)

Earthquakes Canada has confirmed a 3.8 magnitude earthquake hit an area 19 kilometres northwest of Saint John in southern New Brunswick this morning.

Nick Ackerley, an Earthquakes Canada seismologist, said the earthquake hit at 9:49 a.m. AT.

Its preliminary magnitude was reported as 3.7, but Earthquakes Canada upgraded it later Thursday.

Ackerley said the magnitude of the earthquake is "not likely to substantially change."

"We are seeing signs that this was a shallow earthquake. A crude estimate is that it occurred anywhere between two and five kilometres from the surface."

Initial estimates placed the depth of the earthquake at 10 kilometres.

This quake was an "intraplate earthquake," a type that happened inside the tectonic plate, as opposed to an interplate earthquake, which occurs in areas at the edge of a tectonic plate.

"The causes include things like long-dormant faults from previous mountain-building episodes, and glacial rebound," Ackerley said.

"This part of Canada was under glaciers until about 10,000 years ago, and when the weight of the ice was lifted off, the Earth is slowly springing back, and that causes stress in the crust of the Earth."

The government of New Brunswick tweeted officials are aware and are monitoring the earthquake.

Zac Kurylyk of Grand Bay-Westfield was sitting in his home office when he heard a "loud noise and the house started shaking."

"I heard all the pots and pans fall out of the cupboard in the kitchen, and I went out in the living room and my wife was there with the kids, wondering what was going on too — and we thought, 'Something bad is going down."

The shaking lasted between five and 10 seconds — enough for residents to run out of their houses to see what was happening.

"I thought at first that the foundation had imploded or something horrible, or that my firewood fell over the in basement  — a very redneck New Brunswick reaction to have … or that they were blasting at the pit across the street," Kurylyk said.

Residents give reaction and first hand accounts of an earthquake that hit New Brunswick. 0:46

'I heard this terrible, terrible bang'

Mary Hughes, also of Grand Bay-Westfield, thought a truck had hit her house when she felt the quake.

"I had gone back to bed just to listen to The Current, the cat and I, and at about 10 to 10 [a.m.], all of the sudden I heard this terrible, terrible bang."

Hughes's home is about 25 kilometres north of Saint John, close to the epicentre of the quake.

"I jumped out of bed, grabbed my camera and ran downstairs ... there was no tracks, nothing, so then I thought, it's gotta be an earthquake," she said.

The house started shaking. You could hear the sound before the shaking started.- Lee Jacobs

Hughes said there's no visible damage to her home.

Lee Jacobs said she and her husband heard a low rumbling that lasted for several seconds before the house starting "shaking violently."

"I said, 'What is that?' And as soon as I said those words, the house started shaking. You could hear the sound before the shaking started."

She called the earthquake an "unnerving" experience

3.8-magnitude quake considered minor

A 3.8 magnitude quake "could be widely felt," according to Ackerley, depending on the depth at which it occurred.

The term minor earthquake, he said, is not one typically used by scientists. Rather, he described Thursday's event as an earthquake that is "not likely to cause damage."

A next step for researchers, he said, might be to examine the area where the earthquake hit for surface cracking. 

Earthquakes, while rarely severe, aren't unheard of in New Brunswick.

In the spring of 2018, Earthquakes Canada recorded a "swarm" of 22 minor quakes on the western edge of the province near McAdam, a village also also rattled by a 3.3 magnitude earthquake in 2016.

In November 2016, a magnitude 3.1 earthquake was recorded 23 kilometres west-northwest of Miramichi.

But the last major earthquake, a magnitude 5, hit the Miramichi area in the 1980s, the largest earthquake to have affected the Maritimes since 1929.

With files from Julia Wright, Angela Bosse and Maritime Noon

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