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The focus of this paper will be the Queen Charlotte Islands earthquake of 1949.

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Earthquakes devastate people and the environment. Major earthquakes inevitably result in vast life and property losses. One such earthquake in Canada occurred in 1949 in the Queen Charlotte Islands. Disasters such as this cause people to reflect on the physical and human factors that cause earthquakes. Due to the severity and devastation of earthquakes, new research methods have been created to minimize damage. In addition, new methods of prediction and control have been used to forecast potential earthquakes. Governments have also taken the responsibility to take the appropriate measures to protect their citizens and their property. The focus of this paper will be the Queen Charlotte Islands earthquake of 1949. A brief history of this event and the specific physical conditions that gave rise to this disaster will provide an informative introduction to the topic. This paper will report on both physical and human elements that cause earthquake tragedies. Furthermore, this paper will present an account of the methods of earthquake prediction and control as well as the government actions and policies for protection against earthquake catastrophes. History of the Earthquake On August 22, 1949, Canada's largest historic earthquake occurred at the Queen Charlotte Islands with a magnitude of 8.1. It took place on the Queen Charlotte Fault, which runs along the west coast of British Columbia. The effects of the 8.1 magnitude earthquake are shown in Figure 1. This earthquake caused shaking so severe that people could not stand up and cows were knocked off their feet. ...read more.


The Queen Charlotte Islands is largely a resource based economy, with forestry as its principal sector. The non-industrialized lands of the Queen Charlotte Islands would not experience the same degree of destruction from an earthquake as would a city such as Vancouver. Vancouver is a highly-populated and highly-industrialized city. A major earthquake would generate more damage in Vancouver than in the Queen Charlotte Islands due to its numerous industrial structures and more-complex infrastructure. With the hazard of tumbling buildings in a city with a higher population in a more compact area, Vancouver would likely see more deaths and destruction from an earthquake than the Queen Charlotte Islands. Just over two million people reside in metropolitan Vancouver compared to the 5,600 that inhabit the Queen Charlotte Islands. There were no fatalities in the 1949 Queen Charlotte Islands earthquake or in the recent earthquake of magnitude 6.2 in Masset, British Columbia (in the Queen Charlotte Islands) on February 17, 2001 (The Geological Survey of Canada, 2000). Earthquakes with the same or less magnitude as these earthquakes which occur in highly populated places have killed thousands of people. For example, another magnitude 8.1 earthquake on September 19, 1985 in Mexico City killed at least 8,000 people. Five hundred buildings in Mexico City were severely damaged. Although the earthquake killed over 8,000 people, causalities would have been much higher if the quake had occurred just a couple hours later when the schools and office buildings would have been full with people (Seismo-Watch, 2001). ...read more.


British Columbia's Emergency Response Management System (BCERMS), "ensures a coordinated and organized response and recovery to all emergency incidents and disaster. It provides the framework for a standardized emergency response in British Columbia" (British Columbia Emergency Response Management System, 2000). Since British Columbia is prone to earthquake disasters, the BCERMS is a crucial function to control emergencies. Conclusion British Columbia is a high-risk province for earthquake catastrophes. With highly industrialized cities, such as Vancouver, in areas nearby earthquake activity, we learn that much work must be done to prevent major damage and protect lives. The Queen Charlotte Islands, which are earthquake active even today, give us a reason to help defend large cities from potential earthquake devastations. The governments, both provincial and federal, are working to ensure they can provide the necessary safety to people and property in the face of disaster. The support of the entire nation, not only British Columbia, is essential for potential emergencies. Through time, seismologists will continue their research on earthquakes and seismic activity and will be able to inform the governments of the future earthquakes so that they can take the necessary precautions that will protect us and increase our safety. About 1500 small earthquakes occur every year in Canada, whereas major earthquakes, like the 1949 Queen Charlotte Islands earthquake, have occurred only a few times in this century. A small earthquake, however, provides an ideal opportunity to offer reminders about safety measures to take before, during and after an earthquake (The Geological Survey of Canada, 2000). We are going to have another major earthquake. It is merely a matter of time until it happens, so we must prepare to the best of our abilities. 2 ...read more.

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