WATCH: New data shows Vancouver Island has shifted away from the mainland but by how much? Ceilidh Millar reports.
Thousands of tiny tremors in recent weeks have put Vancouver Island in motion, according to a local expert.
“Over the past few weeks the southern half of Vancouver Island has actually moved towards Japan,” said John Cassidy, an earthquake seismologist with Natural Resources Canada.
Cassidy says the southern portion of the Island has moved about four to five millimetres.
The shift, known as an episodic tremor, occurs roughly every fifteen months in the region.
The movement occurs when the Juan de Fuca plate sinks beneath the overlying North American plate which the Island is on.
Pressure is released in the form of tiny tremors and causes the shift to the west.
“That combination lets us better understand the subduction fault,” Cassidy explained. “It shows us where it’s locked and where it’s storing energy for a future earthquake.”
Cassidy says the occurrence is a reminder that we live in an active earthquake zone.
“It’s something that happens around the world in similar tectonic settings,” Cassidy said.
While some might like the idea of shifting away from the mainland, Cassidy says it’s an indication of what’s happening below us.
“We know from events in Japan and Chile that when those earthquakes occur the movements are very significant,” Cassidy explained. “In Chile, coastal cities moved anywhere between two and four metres at the time of the 2010 earthquake.”