The May Day 2017 Yukon Earthquake- A warning for British Columbia

#earthquake #Yukon #MayDay #Whitehorse

Yukon is a mythical part of North America. Not just the name of a GMC SUV or a place where everything is extreme. It is actually a real place- a Canadian territory which is sort of like a province but with somewhat less political sovereignty. Its territory is two-thirds the size of France but with only 37,000 residents most of whom live in its capital #Whitehorse. It located east of Alaska and north of British Columbia and is truly in the middle of nowhere. I say that with respect since I have fond memories of the two university summers I spent there. 

It has been home to many famous writers like Pierre Berton, Jack London, and Robert Service. 

On May 1, 2017, Whitehorse was rocked by two significant  6.2 and 5.7 magnitude earthquakes. There has been no report of death or injuries and very little property damage. The epicenter of the of the quake was 127 kilometres southwest of Whitehorse near the Gulf of Alaska. That is a wild, mountainous region where no one lives or could live.

Whitehorse isn't a significant center of population and has no buildings over 25 metres in height.  Like many small towns, it is fairly spread out with little or no density. Still, the earthquake rattled nerves like the following tweet:

Scary #earthquake near Whitehorse. Hope this is not sign #Cascadia subduction fault is loosening.😟 #tsunami #Vancouver #BC #Canada #yvr

9:14 AM - 1 May 2017

For Vancouver, BC, and Victoria, BC, this is a great wake-up call. This earthquake in Yukon in was about the same distance as the Cascadia subduction zone is from southern Vancouver Island the BC Lower Mainland.  In similar circumstances, if a 5:20 am and a 6.2 earthquake coming from 120 Km away in Vancouver or Victoria, the result would be immeasurably worse. 

The next time someone tells you it can't happen here direct them to up North to the midnight sun.


Diarmuid D. O'Dea


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