Seislmologist here to study quake aftermath

  • Nov. 14, 2012 7:00 a.m.

By Jane Wilson–A seismologist arrived on the islands last week, to do research and give lectures in the wake of the recent 7.7 earthquake, which she described as “remarkable.”Alison Bird is a seismologist with the Geological Survey of Canada. She will on the islands for two weeks and while she will be checking instruments, she said she is very interested to speak to people as some of her research concerns how people experience earthquakes, rather than just what can be measured with instruments. “I’m interested in what kind of ground people were on,” she said, “what kind of building they were in, what they were doing and how they felt it.”She will be visiting the schools talking to children and said she was very impressed with the Sandspit students she visited last week. “They really took the initiative to learn about earthquakes, to really understand what they had gone through.” Ms Bird explained that Sandspit felt the shaking more strongly than other communities because it is on sand which amplifies the seismic wave. “These kids were absolutely fantastic, they were dynamic they were engaged, they had fantastic questions for me. It was a very rewarding experience,” she said.Ms Bird said she’s fairly certain there is a direct link between the earthquake and the loss of the water from the hot springs. “There are a couple of other hot springs in the world who have had their levels change due to an earthquake,” she said, “and it’s not unusual for well water levels to change due to an earthquake and sometimes the level comes back and sometimes it doesn’t, that’s something unfortunately we can’t tell you. We are installing a couple of sensors down there, to try and get a handle on any activity that’s close to the hot springs that might give us some information, but whether those are fruitful or not, is something to be seen.”Ms Bird attributes the lack of damage from the earthquake to the distance from the earthquake to the nearest community, 80 km away, and the fact that construction here tends to be low and wood framed, “you don’t have old, masonry buildings that get damaged first.” She also said she’s heard of many students who participated in the recent Shake Out BC earthquake drill telling their parents what they were supposed to do when the earthquake hit.