New Brunswick town plagued for weeks by earthquake swarm and no one knows why

April 19, 2012CANADA - “Everybody is talking about the earthquakes,” says David Blair, a retired science teacher and lifetime McAdam resident from his home on Old Harvey Road, just east of downtown. “You’ll be out and about and people will say, ‘Did you feel the one last night, or did you feel the one this morning? Some people will say yes, others might say no. It really depends on what you are doing.’ “If you are quiet at home and there is not a lot of noise you are probably going to feel or hear it. But if you are banging around, or if the grandkids are banging around, you sometimes won’t know if it’s the kids — or if it was an earthquake — they are about the same magnitude, I guess.” Residents were initially rattled awake at 1:40 a.m. on March 10 by a 2.4-magnitude earthquake that was followed three minutes later by a 1.4-magnitude aftershock. People described hearing what sounded like an explosion. Pictures fell off walls. Window panes rattled. Floorboards creaked and groaned. Some houses even shook, while locals, initially, felt a surge of panic that eased, somewhat, by morning with the realization that a bomb had not gone off but a small earthquake had. Three days later: two more earthquakes. And in the five weeks since there have been 35 additional shakes, a steady tide of minor tremors that is a popular topic of conversation among villagers and a seismic anomaly that scientists can’t entirely explain. “What is happening in McAdam is something called an earthquake swarm,” says Stephen Halchuk, a seismologist with Natural Resources Canada. “It is a series of earthquakes, which is rare. But what is particularly unusual about what is happening in McAdam is that it is basically happening directly beneath the village — and at a depth of less than one kilometre. “When these earthquake swarms occur they are typically in a remote area where nobody feels them.” Mr. Halchuk can’t say how long the earthquakes will continue for, or if a big one, capable of causing serious property damage and endangering lives, could be lurking among all the little ones. “We can never say never,” he says. “I wouldn’t rule out a very large event occurring but, typically, in situations like this, the magnitude of the earthquakes is modest and doesn’t increase.” Researchers from the University of New Brunswick addressed community members at an atypical town hall meeting Monday night, answering questions and assuaging lingering fears. One working theory they have to explain the quakes is an early spring thaw. A rapid change in groundwater levels could, perhaps, be causing the underlying rocks to slip and stress, unleashing the multiple shocks. –National Post
contribution by Emanni
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17 Responses to New Brunswick town plagued for weeks by earthquake swarm and no one knows why

  1. Rob says:

    I was going to ask if record breaking tempratures might be playing a role in all of this. Looks like it wasn’t the silly question I thought it might be after all ;-)

  2. MJ13 says:

    I am connecting this info via geo proximity to the recent 4.5 quake off Nova Scotia-Boston coast and the huge whirlpools in the same area that puzzled scientists last year. Area also is contiguous to the swarms around Windsor, Ontario region- part of same plate? If the mid Atlantic ridge is moving could this be a consequence? Is the Mid Atlantic a slip strike fault? Almost seems like the eastern base of Great Lakes is spreading and opening up. Its antipode would be the Ethiopia fissure that is widening? Implications on the Eastern seaboard are enormous, and puzzlingly, followed by very few- even among doomers.

    • Mel says:

      I’ve pondered this same thought myself. The mid Atlantic rift is considered a “failed rift system” meaning it did not completely split the land mass. Since this phenomena has never been witnessed, I believe science has largely ignored the process itself, instead relying on old earth theory. Very curious indeed.

  3. sentientstorm says:

    Actually, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) is not a failed arm, which would be known as an aulacogen, but rather the successful expansion rift that has separated the North American plate from the Eurasian and African plates. McAdam is located at the edge of the North American Craton During the past year and a half there have been quakes scattered along the eastern edge of that craton, along the Appalachian range. The question here is what would be causing that sort of torsion to result in the quake swarm in a locally unstable area like McAdam

    • Bill H says:

      I would tend to agree with your hypothesis.

      Let me add to this a bit. If the North American Craton is under massive amounts of torsion then it is safe to assume that super sonic waves will occur as well. while not felt, because they move so fast, the air above them would be displaced at the the rate of the wave. Seismograph equipment might not be able to record it due to its speed.

      As the air above the land mass slows, a sonic boom is heard. ( just as if a jet passes over head supersonic speeds. The air is foiled and as it slows and it creates a collision and thus a boom). this can also be the cause of constant groan or rumble as the earth responds to the stress..

  4. Amy says:

    This sounds alot like what is going on in that town in Wisconsin.

    • sentientstorm says:

      @Amy, that’s what I was thinking, Wisconsin, and Michigan as well, with all 3 locations having reports of strange lights and sounds.
      Although what I am thinking has not been recognized in mainstream geoscience, to my knowledge.
      This is GPS displacement at Yellowstone in 2008-2009.

      This is a more recent GPS displacement map for the area surrounding Yellowstone, through Jan. 2012:

      I believe the relative motion of all the GPS displacement vectors is to the west, because of resistance of the North American craton, which is under enormous stress and torsion, although this has not yet been supported by anyone else in mainstream tectonic studies.

  5. Bill H says:

    If you plot all the towns and areas which are having the Groan, Lights, Quake Swarms, and Hum they are all on the edge of the Craton.

    think of the craton like a sheet of steal which is under torsion and twisted. if you ping it the wave travels througout and the low growl sound is apparent. the ping of it sounds like a bugle and then as the wave slows it manifests itself as low hum or growl.

    the wave on the surface can create an electrostatic charge as well as air displacment. thus, the lightening and sonic booms heard…

    its simply a matter of physics..

  6. Bill H says:

    ” A rapid change in groundwater levels could, perhaps, be causing the underlying rocks to slip and stress, unleashing the multiple shocks.”

    If the Craton is slipping and under enormous stress, the very rapid movement of the edge would cause all of the items I noted in my previous post but also it could cause liquefaction. this would most certainly destabilize the bedrock under the town but the quakes would be the cause of the liquefaction not as a result of water…

  7. Bill H says:

    What I find odd is the complete black out of quakes in Yellowstone. this appears to be the hook point on the Craton… yet with all the activity all around it there is a big blank spot… why?

    • sentientstorm says:

      That’s a good question, Bill, especially given what may be viewed as widespread effects of the Snake River plume under Yellowstone. I’ve been wondering about it myself. While I have seen as many as 120 quakes disappear from the Yellowstone historic data, which I noticed only because I was doing mappings of the the same data range two weeks apart, I am not inclined to believe the absence of quakes are the result of deliberately not reporting them. My guess is there is currently lack of quakes because the effects of the plume activity are being redirected elsewhere, such as perhaps due to the continental craton “pivoting” away from the plume itself, and the lateral dispersion of the plume to the west, seen here:

      • Bill H says:

        Interesting thing about Yellowstone is its Magma chamber. it appears to be growing very large and the land rise is well outside the western boundaries of the park.. there have been a few swarms to the west of Yellowstone over the last few months which is not unexpected given the land rise in the area.

      • Bill H says:

        this expansion of the chamber and land rise could well be masking many of the tremors and quakes..

      • Bill H says:

        looking at the plum, it appears to be back building to the west…following the old snake river plum.. (path of least resistance?) if that is infact the case the amount of eruptable magma is going to be 3-4 times just what the main chamber holds..

        Just looking at the GPS rise its about 100 miles long.. and 75 miles wide following the old plume path. Lets Hope the good lord doesn’t want it to go up… the US would be history as we know it.

  8. Bill H says:

    two items to show you all waht it is i am looking at

    one is the GPS land map and the other is the vectoring of those stations… its pretty impressive what is going on up here..

  9. sarah killin says:

    Love your Blog..

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