Robert Barron column: Island a beautiful and dangerous place

Robert Barron column: Island a beautiful and dangerous place

But we do face even more of a threat from earthquakes than many had thought.

How many people on Vancouver Island actually felt that 2.8-magnitude earthquake on June 8?

Apparently, the small shaker occurred at 10:09 a.m., approximately 34 kilometres east of Duncan, but there were no reports of damage.

But the Island does face even more of a threat from earthquakes than many had thought.

In 2016, Canadian and American seismologists confirmed the existence of a previously unknown earthquake fault zone just five kilometres south of Victoria, called the Devil’s Mountain Fault Zone. The zone is actually made up of a series of faults that run from Washington state to Victoria.

It’s much closer to us than the area where the “Big One” is supposed to originate in the region off Vancouver Island’s west coast, where the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate meets the North American plate.

The Devil’s Mountain Faults lie entirely on the North American plate, which usually generates smaller, shallower crustal earthquakes, but they could potentially be as high as a 7.5 magnitude shaker.

So any notion that living on the Island’s east coast, will shield us from the ravages of a big quake on the west coast where the major tectonic plates meet may be misplaced.We’re as vulnerable here as anywhere in this highly seismically active region.

Fortunately for me, up until this point anyway, I’ve never experienced an earthquake in my more than 20 years living on the Island.

The closest I’ve come is one day about 15 years ago when I was working for the now-closed Nanaimo Daily News.

I was in the bathroom taking care of business and when I came out a few minutes later, everyone seemed to be agitated, with many heading out the doors as quickly as they could.

I thought a gunman had come into the building, or something equally nefarious, when a coworker told me that the large pillars at the centre of the large office space had just been shaking.

That’s when I made a mental note to head to the bathroom in the event of another earthquake and avoid the crush at the doors as that private sanctuary seemed to me to be the safest place in the whole building when the shaking begins.

I remember that the earthquake risk was a factor when my girlfriend at the time and I were deciding whether we would move to the Island or not. People were telling us that we would be setting up house right in the middle of an area that has become increasingly known as one of the most dangerous places to live on the planet.

But, as they say, we can’t live our lives in fear.If we give in to fear, then many of us wouldn’t leave the house in the morning because we are afraid of the possibility of being hit by a bus.

After all, I don’t think there’s a place on Earth that is absolutely safe from everything because we live on a very active and violent planet.

Despite the risk, moving to the Island was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. There’s no doubt that it’s one of the most beautiful places in the country, if not the world.

There will be a major earthquake here at some point, and we should all make sure that we are as prepared for it as we can be.

But I’m not planning on going anywhere anytime soon.

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Robert Barron writes for the Cowichan Citizen.


Robert Barron column: Island a beautiful and dangerous place