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Earthquake or quarry blast? Here's the skinny on this morning's big shake!

'We initially reported this as an earthquake because we can't tell where all the blasts are across the country'
20180516 birch's road explosion miller paving quarry sign turl
The blast took place at the Miller Paving quarry at the end of Birch's Road. Jeff Turl/BayToday

Was it or wasn't it?

It seems the experts were baffled by that earthquake/dynamite blast today, but a seismologist with Natural Resources Canada thinks he has the answer.

Stephan Halchuk told CKAT this afternoon that the shallow shake was confusing.

"Our instruments recorded shaking this morning in the very near vicinity of North Bay at 9:05 this morning. What our instruments record is the vibrations as they travel through the Earth's surface. Normally we're able to determine the difference between an earthquake, which typically occurs 10 to 20 kilometres below the surface of the earth, and blasts from construction quarries that happen at the surface."

But Halchuk says today's event was very shallow.

"So it's hard for us to determine if it's a shallow earthquake or some surface man-made activity. We initially reported this as an earthquake because we can't tell where all the blasts are across the country. There are literally hundreds of blasting sites every day. But since talking with reporters and the local fire chief we've confirmed that there was blasting going on at the exact time, 9:05 this morning by a local company."

That company was Miller Paving.

See:  Wow, early explosion rocks the city!

So it wasn't an earthquake!

"Yes, that's correct. It was, in fact, a surface blast that occurred this morning.

"There are occasionally small earthquakes in the region. There was a magnitude 3 earthquake in the fall of 2016 that was close to North Bay and people remember feeling that."

See: Earthquake 3.1 rattles area

"It's not unusual to have them in the region every couple of years or so," explained Halchuk. "But today's event, we've confirmed, was in fact, a blast."

That was confirmed this afternoon by Fire Chief Jason Whiteley. 

"Natural Resources Canada reported earlier today that the North Bay area experienced an earthquake. I have followed up with seismologist from NRC and based on information and evidence they have acknowledged that the vibrations detected from their equipment would have been from the blasting at the quarry."

Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
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