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Small earthquake rattles the Ottawa Valley

Minor earthquake hits near Chalk River, ON
Minor earthquake hits near Chalk River, ON

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

March 29, 2011 — A 3.5 magnitude earthquake was detected near Chalk River, Ontario Tuesday. No damage was reported.

Structure damage in Gatineau, Quebec in June 2010
Structure damage in Gatineau, Quebec in June 2010

On Tuesday, Earthquakes Canada said a 3.5 magnitude earthquake happened about 70 km northeast of Chalk River, Ontario just after 12 p.m.

Chalk River is located 200 km northwest of Ottawa and is home to an Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) nuclear facility, which produces medical isotopes. Authorities assure that the tremor was not felt at the laboratory and had no impact on the AECL nuclear site. There are no reports of any damage or injury.

Julie Emond, Geology and Geography Specialist at MétéoMédia says the Ottawa Valley is an active seismic zone.

“The city of Hawkesbury is located at the junction of the Canadian Shield and the St. Lawrence Lowlands where there are many geological faults. Those faults increase the risk of an earthquake to occur in the region,” explains Emond.

It was only two weeks ago when a minor earthquake hit western Quebec. The 4.3 magnitude quake was centered in Lachute, which is between Montreal, Quebec and Ottawa, Ontario. And in June 2010, a 5.0 magnitude quake also shook parts of Ontario and Quebec causing minor damage in some communities.

Damage from 9.0 magnitude earthquake in Japan
Damage from 9.0 magnitude earthquake in Japan

The devastation from a 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan has many Canadians wondering: What if the 'Big One' hits home?

Emergency officials say with natural disasters becoming more frequent, residents should always be prepared.

“The recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the earlier earthquake in New Zealand show that an emergency can occur any time and any place- often without warning,” said Loretta Chandler, Director of Toronto's Office of Emergency Management in a media statement.

Things like packing emergency kits and practicing earthquake drills can help to save lives during a major earthquake event.

With files from The Canadian Press

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