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Graphic from the BBCLast night a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck the coast of Alaska near Kodiak. The epicentre was some 150 miles off the coast and 12 miles deep but the quake raised fears of a tsunami along the Alaskan and British Columbian coastlines and warning sirens were sounded in particularly vulnerable areas.

With regard to Victoria Cormac O’Brien reported in The Martlet:

“At 1:40 a.m. this morning, the Government of Canada issued a tsunami warning to residents in low-lying areas of Greater Victoria and residents on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

The warning was made via Twitter, online CBC broadcasts, and on television. Official emergency Twitter accounts for the region recommended moving away from beaches, bays, and inlets, and instead move to higher ground away from the coast. There, they should await instructions from local officials.”

When it rapidly became apparent that there was to be no significant tsunami – waves being no more than a few feet in height – the warning was cancelled and the all-clear given by 4:30am.

Now – although there are reports of early morning gatherings on Mounts Tolmie and Doug, I suspect that many people in the Greater Victoria area discovered that they had missed the warning in much the same way as did we: The Girl finding the tweets on her phone when she awoke.

Should we be worried by this?

Well – probably not. Living on the east coast of Vancouver Island and surrounded by the Gulf Islands we are probably reasonably well protected against waves arriving from the open Pacific to the west. Further, the tsunami warnings advise moving to ground at least 30 metres above sea level. Though our home is only about 500 metres from the shoreline we are a surprising 60 metres above the high tide line.

No room for complacency of course and yet another reminder of the indifferent powers of Mother Nature.

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Image by Wolfi Korn (Cartoonist Illustrator)The wine’s all drunk and so am I
Here with the hoi-poloi, don’t ask me why
We’re celebratin’ anticipatin’; end of the year
everybody come, everybody here
– well more or less
Some already in a mess
I guess they’re waiting for the big one.”

Peter Gabriel – “Waiting for the Big One”

Plus ça change!

A little over a year ago I used a very similar title and exactly the same graphic and Peter Gabriel lyric to introduce a post concerning the year into which we had just nervously stumbled. We knew then – without a shadow of a doubt – that a year hence we would be seeing life very differently.

It will not surprise the gentle reader, therefore, that I should use a similar introduction now for a totally different topic.

A feature of life on the Pacific Northwest coast that really doesn’t register until one actually resides there is the fact that one is living in an earthquake zone! I knew before we came here that this would be so because the Kickass Canada Girl told me repeatedly that it was so. I am, of course, a chap – and as with many things that chaps are told that don’t seem to have an immediate relevance I did what chaps traditionally do and filed the ‘fact’ away somewhere in what Sherlock Holmes called the Mind Palace – as being something of vague interest but having no direct import.

I can sense those of you who live on the coast tutting piteously at this point and rolling your eyeballs noisily, but I can assure you that those from ‘sheltered’ parts of the planet will be racking their brains now for dimly remembered references from Hollywood movies or nasty Channel 5 documentaries to glean some idea as to what this might mean. Clearly many millions of people – including the Girl herself – have lived for a considerable number of decades in this part of the world in complete safety.

To gain a clearer picture do please have a look at this most useful earthquake tracking site.

It may surprise you nearly as much as it did me to observe that one of the most recent events listed thereon is a 4.8 magnitude earthquake with its epicentre 52 kilometres beneath North Saanich.

Hold on” – you cry. “North Saanich? Isn’t that where you live?

Well yes – it is… though because the Girl and I are currently in Kamloops in the interior of BC we got to hear about the quake in much the same way as most other British Coumbians – by reading about it on the news. Our friends in Saanichton were awoken at around midnight by a sudden shock.

What the f**k was that?” – she enquired sleepily.

Earthquake” – he replied, rolling over and going back to sleep.

OK – he got into trouble for that, but the point remains… British Columbians are sufficiently used to such apparently minor happenings that they pretty much ignore them. As one commentator wrote after the event (I paraphrase):

How many rushed out the next day to update their Earthquake Kits? How many actually have Earthquake Kits? I have – it’ a bottle of single malt!”

The probable reason for this almost English-like complacency is that these frequent minor quakes usually cause very little damage and are apparently no indicators of – nor have any relevance regarding – that which is at the back of everybody’s mind – the Big One! In common with the whole of the west coast of the North American continent British Columbia is (not) holding its breath for the forthcoming major cataclysm – which is due any century now!

In the meantime I rather liked the caption – which has I know been used before – in a local paper. It read:

Vancouver Island 2015… We will not forget… We will rebuild!”

…over a picture of a fallen garbage bin!

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