Tiny tremors in coffee cups, trembling chairs and shaking showers were reported around Whitehorse on Tuesday morning.
At 7:49 a.m., while many residents were preparing for work or sitting with a morning cup of coffee, a “moderate” earthquake shook up parts of Southwest Yukon, BC and Alaska.
It was pegged at 5.7 on the Richter scale, which measures the amount of shaking and energy released during a quake.
The epicentre was located just west of Skagway, Alaska, and was felt throughout western Canada.
“There would have been strong shaking if you were very close to it,” said John Cassidy, a seismologist with Natural Resources Canada on Tuesday.
“Had it occurred in a populated centre or area, you would expect some damage from an earthquake of that size.”
Following the quake, Yukon Energy Corp. checked its Whitehorse, Mayo and Aishihik dams for structural damage and found them sound, said spokesperson Janet Patterson.
The checks are done routinely after any earthquake, said Patterson.
Although no damage was reported, phone lines and e-mail boxes at Natural Resources Canada were swamped with reports from residents who felt all shook up.
The Earth’s surface is composed of a series of plates pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle. Earthquakes happen when those plates move and collide.
“Southern Alaska is one of the most seismically active regions in North America,” said Cassidy from his office in Victoria, BC.
Alaska’s Earthquake Information Centre in Fairbanks recorded nearly 4,000 quakes in Alaska in October, November and December 2006.
In the last week there have been more than 28 in the vicinity of Alaska and Yukon.
Of those, four were above 5.0 on the Richter scale.
Generally, shaking from any earthquake rating above a 3.0 can be felt.
The scale is calculated according to a base-10 logarithm.
So a magnitude 4.0 earthquake is 10-times larger than a 3.0 and a magnitude 5.0 is 100-times larger than a 3.0.
The greatest magnitude earthquake in Canadian history measured 8.1 on the Richter scale in 1949 in the Queen Charlotte Islands.
Smith House finds
The historical Smith House located in Lepage Park may be rented to the city for office space.
The Yukon Historical and Museums Association already leases the house from the city and this sub-lease agreement would keep the revenue from the building in the hands of the association.
“We were looking for new tenants and we couldn’t find anybody else that met our criteria of not-for-profit or somebody who does work related to heritage, that sort of thing,” said executive director of YHMA, Rebecca Jansen.
“So the city approached us and said that they would be interested in having the building back so that they would be able to do some more renovations on it as well and use it as their office space.”
Having the city use the Smith House will be good because it has been subject to vandalism recently.
“It will be nice to have the city presence so they can see what happens; they are probably better equipped to deal with that sort of thing,” said Jansen.
“Also, it’s nice for us to have a secure long-term tenant because it means that we don’t have to worry about relying on that income to help do our programs and keep the association afloat.”
YHMA will use the rent money generated by the Smith House for various things, like advocacy.
“We’ll advocate or provide support for people that are trying to get heritage designation in Whitehorse, municipally or territorially,” said Jansen.
The funds will also be used to host the Heritage Awards, promote heritage issues in the local newspapers and maintain a heritage inventory for people who are doing research about the history of the building they are buying or own.
It also supports museums and other historical societies. (SF)