Vancouver sits on the Ring of Fire, where there has been a lot of earthquake activity in the past few weeks -- first in New Zealand and now in Japan. Something is going on in the earth's tectonic plates, a major paradigm shift, as it were.
We also have 100s of volcanoes in our mountain ranges, and Marigold has a perfect view of the volcano Mt. Baker from her bedroom window. Another of the volcanoes in this area is Mt. St. Helen's, which erupted at 8:32 a.m. on Sunday, May 18, 1980. I was at my mother's place in Victoria on Vancouver Island, and we could hear the explosion. The plume of ash rose 80,000 feet in the air and ash was deposited over 11 states in the United States, as well as over British Columbia. This is a picture of Mt. St. Helen's the day before it erupted, and then two years later.
We often get small temblors (not tremblors) here in Vancouver. I sometimes glance over and see my plants swaying, or I will hear a loud crack in the building. These are quite common occurrences. These temblors register on seismographs, but most people will go about their business and not notice them. Earthquakes are measured on what is called the Richter scale. Major earthquakes usually measure between 6.0 and 9.5, which was the highest ever recorded. Each increase of one unit on the Richter scale represents a 32-fold increase in the intensity of the earthquake. An 8.5 earthquake is 32 times more intense than one that measures at 7.5, and a 9.5 is 32 times greater than an 8.5. The earthquake in Alaska that caused the Pacific Tsunami which hit the town where I lived was 9.5, and the recent earthquake in Japan was 9.0. Those are extremely powerful earthquakes.
On February 28, 2001 Seattle had an earthquake that registered 6.1, and we could feel it here in Vancouver. I was in the photocopy room at work when the cabinets began swaying. I went back to my desk, and my co-worker was sitting with her head between her hands. She said to me, "Oh, Jo, I was out for dinner last night and I think I drank too much wine. I have such an awful hangover, it feels just like an earthquake..."
"Um ... Danika, it is an earthquake. We have to evacuate the building..."
Vancouver is long-overdue for what they call "the big one" and I have an earthquake kit under my desk at work, just in case. But Japan was probably the most earthquake-prepared country in the world and it was no match for a 9.0 quake. Once those monsters hit, there's not much folks can do, except maybe put their head between their hands and pray.