Strong earthquake and aftershocks shake British Columbia coastline

Buildings swayed and windows rattled along Vancouver Island and BC's South Coast last night, as a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck the region — one of over 20 powerful earthquakes that have shaken the Pacific Ring of Fire over the past month, which is slight uptick in activity over what's normally seen there.

Just after 8:10 p.m. Pacific Time Wednesday night, a strong earthquake struck off the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, registering as an initial magnitude of 6.7, but was quickly downgraded to magnitude 6.6. The quake was shallow, with the US Geological Survey showing the epicentre focused 94 kilometres south of Port Hardy, and only around 11 kilometres under the ocean floor.

The quake shook Vancouver Island and the coast of the mainland, rattling windows, causing light fixtures and window blinds to sway back and forth for minutes and gave residents from Port Hardy to Tacoma, Washington — nearly 500 kilometres to the southwest — a collective dizzy spell. Fortunately, the earthquake caused no injuries, and no damages have been reported. Also, no tsunami warning was issued due to the quake.

This video compiled on YouTube collects footage from various sources that recorded the shaking and rattling from the quake:

At least four significant aftershocks have struck in the aftermath, the first and strongest — registering as magnitude 5.0 — just 10 minutes later, then two more of magnitude 4.2 over the next two hours, and a magnitude 4.1 tremor followed up early this morning.

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Over the past month, the Pacific Ring of Fire has been a little more active than normal. This region effectively rings the Pacific Ocean, and is where several tectonic plates rub against each other as they jostle around and are forced under one another. Many of the world's strongest earthquakes occur around this region, and during any particular month, you can typically expect to see from four or five up to around a dozen significant earthquakes — magnitude 6.5+, or intense enough to cause injuries, fatalities or significant damage. Over the past 30 days or so, there have been 20 significant earthquakes, including five quakes of greater than magnitude 7.0 and one above magnitude 8.0.

This doesn't necessarily mean that we're seeing a trend here, with more and stronger quakes happening, or that this is possibly leading up to anything. Many of the significant quakes over the past month are simply aftershocks of the extremely powerful magnitude 7 and 8 earthquakes we've seen lately. Other significant quakes, like this most recent one, produce aftershocks that don't typically register as significant on their own. So, taking that into consideration, the list drops to a much more normal level.

Still, these earthquakes are an excellent reminder for anyone living along the Pacific Ring of Fire that they should be ready, with supplies and a disaster plan, in case one of these significant quakes strikes their area.

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