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N.B. earthquake not an every day experience, but not unusual either


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FREDERICTON - Earthquakes aren't unusual in New Brunswick but experts say they don't happen every day either.
Sunday's magnitude 3.5 earthquake that was extensively felt in the Boiestown-Doaktown area isn't out of the ordinary, said Ken Burke, a retired research professor with the University of New Brunswick's geology department.
"They are just little minor adjustments of the (earth's) crust to various things," Burke said. "It's nothing unusual."
Burke, who has used newspaper accounts of earthquakes to track their historic activity in the province, said he found about 80 reportable events over a 150-year period from 1811 to 1961, prior to seismograph use.
The smaller ones often go unnoticed, he said.
"Unless (the larger ones) occur close to where people live, nobody reports them as being felt."
Allison Bent, a seismologist with Earthquakes Canada, said Sunday's quake was recorded at 5:16 a.m. by about 50 stations in the country.
"It's a small earthquake in an area where we have had earthquakes in the past," Bent said. "They're not an everyday occurrence but not a total surprise either. It was about magnitude 3.5, so it's certainly big enough that people felt it over a small area but not large enough to cause any damage."
An aftershock of 3.3 occurred around 10:30 a.m. in the same area.
Bent said earthquakes can't be predicted but the organization uses the data collected for analysis.
"It identifies which areas are most likely to experience earthquakes in the future and gives us some idea about the largest likely size," she said.
Bent said New Brunswick is low to moderate when it comes to earthquake activity.
"It's not at the bottom of the list and it is not at the top," she said. "There was a magnitude 5.7 earthquake in 1982. That one was a little bigger and that's the largest one we know about. The west coast of Canada is the area most likely to experience a very large earthquake."
The 1982 quake, centred midway between Miramichi and Grand Falls, left a few cracked walls in Miramichi and Houlton, Maine, but there was no substantial damage. It was felt as far away as Fredericton and Moncton.

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