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Earthquakes and Volcanoes

Has there ever been a big earthquake in Nova Scotia?

There have been no known major earthquakes in Nova Scotia, if you mean ones that have caused any deaths or resulted in severe damage to buildings. There have been several minor earthquakes, especially in the southwestern part of the province around Shelburne. A minor earthquake in the vicinity of Lake Ainslie in 1909 did some damage to a few buildings. There have also been several offshore. The most severe earthquake to affect Atlantic Canada was the so called "Grand Banks" earthquake of November 18th 1929, which would have registered about 7.2 on the Richter Scale (however, the Richter Scale was not devised until 1935). This earthquake actually occurred on the sea floor, about 350 km south of the Burin Peninsula, Newfoundland, and 18 km beyond the Laurentian Slope. It resulted in severe damage on the Burin Peninsula, killing 28 people and destroying many buildings. Most of the damage was caused by a tsunami (often incorrectly called a tidal wave), which was triggered by the earthquake. The effect of the November 18th 1929 earthquake on Nova Scotia was relatively minor, with some buildings damaged in eastern Cape Breton, especially in the Sydney area. The worst structural damage was to house chimneys. The tsunami which hit Cape Breton had three major pulses about 30 minutes apart; these occurred in the early evening after darkness had fallen. The only other damage of any note in Nova Scotia was a landslide at Pictou. A tsunami generated by the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 was also felt in Nova Scotia. There is an article in the December 1994 Canadian Geographic on the "Grand Banks" earthquake.

Graham Williams, Ceological Survey of Canada (Atlantic), Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

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    Last Modified: 2004-12-10