Nova Scotia

Minor earthquake shakes homes, baffles residents in Dartmouth

More than 400 people reported feeling an earthquake that shook the Dartmouth, N.S., neighborhood of Montebello Sunday night.

Natural Resources Canada says the 2.6-magnitude earthquake happened shortly before 9 p.m.

Residents in the Montebello neighborhood of Dartmouth were startled by a minor earthquake Sunday evening. (Google Street View)

Some people in the Montebello neighbourhood of Dartmouth, N.S., were shaken up Sunday evening by a minor earthquake.

The 2.6-magnitude earthquake, which happened at around 8:40 p.m. Sunday, startled and confused residents living in the area.

Lisa Wagner, an employee at Planet Paws Pet Essentials at the corner of Montebello Drive and Breeze Drive, said she was working at the store with her boss when they heard a "really loud bang."

"And then just within seconds, the ground started shaking and vibrating," she said. "It just lasted for a couple seconds. But, yeah, we were very confused as to what it was."

She said they went to the basement to make sure nothing had exploded.

She said there were police cars and fire trucks in the area searching for the cause of the vibration when she left the store about 35 minutes later.

Halifax Fire spent approximately an hour searching the Waverley Road area, but said no damage and no injuries were reported. 

Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency logo on a red fire truck.
Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency searched the area for about an hour and said no damage or injuries were reported. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Halifax Regional Police said in a news release it received several 911 calls from people who said their homes were shaking, and many reported hearing a loud noise that some on social media described as an "explosion."

Natural Resources Canada says on its website it's "very unlikely" an earthquake with a magnitude of less than five could cause any damage. There hasn't been an earthquake centred in Nova Scotia with a magnitude higher than five since 1855.

Nora Lindner, who lives on Montebello Drive and runs a nearby catering business, said she and her husband were sitting in their living room when they heard a loud bang and felt a vibration.

"At first we thought it was our woodpile or something toppling over," she said.

Lindner, like Wagner, assumed it was an explosion. She said was surprised to learn about an hour later it was an earthquake.

"My husband's lived in Dartmouth all his life and had never heard of that happening here, so we were a little surprised for sure," she said.

Earthquakes rare, but they happen

Nick Ackerley, a seismologist with the Canadian Hazards Information Service, said earthquakes in the area are uncommon because Nova Scotia isn't close to the edges of any tectonic plates.

Still, they do happen in eastern Canada, he said.

"Events like this are a really good reminder that we do have earthquakes," he said.

He also said it's not uncommon to hear a loud noise along with an earthquake.

"What you're actually feeling is the seismic waves reaching the surface of the earth and then shaking air, and then you hear that," he explained.

More than 400 people reported feeling the Dartmouth quake, according to the Earthquakes Canada website. 

The quake was mostly felt in the Dartmouth neighborhood of Montebello, but others reported feeling it too. (Earthquakes Canada)

While most were from the Montebello and Lake Micmac areas, reports were also coming in from downtown Halifax and Dartmouth, and from as far as Lake Echo and Whites Lake.

Ackerley is encouraging anyone who felt the earthquake to report it.

"It's actually helping us quite a bit to better localize where the earthquake was," he said. 

Earthquakes are more common on the western side of the province. In September 2018, a 3.1-magnitude earthquake happened just off the coast of Mavillette, near Meteghan.

In 2015, a 3.6-magnitude tremor shook the area about 60 kilometres southwest of Digby on Canada Day. And in 2016, a 3.0-magnitude quake was centred about 19 kilometres north of Yarmouth.