2 earthquakes on Christmas Day among latest to strike west of Vancouver Island

No damage is expected after two earthquakes struck in the Pacific Ocean west of the northern tip of Vancouver Island on Christmas morning, the latest in a string of quakes to hit the area over the past week.

The first one, a 3.6 magnitude, happened Wednesday at around 8:30 a.m. PT, and struck around 150 kilometres west of Port Alice.

It's considered an aftershock of a larger 6.2 quake in the same general area on Christmas Eve, said Andrew Schaeffer, an earthquake seismologist with Natural Resources Canada.

"Having earthquakes in this region is completely normal. We're used to a lot of them there," he said.

"This is an area of high seismicity."

The second quake happened just before 12:45 p.m. in the same general area, around 200 kilometres west of Port Hardy. It was a magnitude 4.9 and no damage is expected. 

Over the past year, there have been almost 90 magnitude 3 quakes in the area, Schaeffer said. Another 15 to 20 were magnitude 4. 

The Christmas Day quakes were among about 15 between magnitudes 2 and 3 to hit the area in a sequence that started on Dec. 23.

Earthquakes that are magnitudes 2 and 3 do not produce tsunamis and "almost certainly" cannot be felt by anyone when they occur so far off shore, Schaeffer said. 

"What these earthquakes really remind us is we live in a seismically active part of Canada," he said.

"It's always a good idea to be prepared."