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Largest recorded Alberta earthquake probably natural, scientist says

A 5.6-magnitude quake rattled windows and shook homes near Peace River in northwest Alberta shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday.
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Traffic on the Trans Canada highway passing through Canmore, Alta., Sunday, May 30, 2021. A geologist says the largest earthquake ever recorded in Alberta on Tuesday was probably related to seismic events originating in the Rocky Mountains. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

EDMONTON — A geologist says the largest earthquake ever recorded in Alberta on Tuesday evening was probably due to natural causes.

Rebecca Salvage of the University of Calgary says the 5.6-magnitude quake that rattled windows and shook homes near Peace River in northwest Alberta was likely too deep to have been caused any other way.

Energy extraction processes such as fracking have contributed to earthquakes in other parts of the province. 

Salvage says the earthquake, which was preceded by two smaller quakes and followed by several aftershocks, occurred about six kilometres underground. 

She says it is probably related to seismic events originating in the Rocky Mountains.

Earthquakes Canada reported a series of tremors in northwestern Alberta. 

The largest was a magnitude 5.6 earthquake shortly before 6 p.m. MST that was preceded by two 5.2 earthquakes, followed by several aftershocks.

All three quakes occurred near Reno, Alta., a tiny rural hamlet about 40 kilometres southeast of Peace River.

Other, lesser seismic events were reported near Grande Cache and Grande Prairie.

RCMP report no injuries from the event, although those who lived through it say it came on with the sound of a freight train, rattling their homes and their nerves. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2022. 

The Canadian Press