For residents of British Columbia, along the west coast of Canada, seeing a road sign that says, ‘Entering Tsunami Hazard Zone’ is a common occurrence. The sign reminds travelers that British Columbia and much of western North America is earthquake country.
Here, the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate is diving under the North American plate. This boundary, called the Cascadia Subduction Zone, extending from British Columbia down to northern California, has the potential to generate very large magnitude earthquakes and tsunamis and is currently primed for the next one.
Ensuring Canadians are alerted of potentially harmful earthquakes in the region falls to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), a federal organization tasked with developing policies and programs to utilize the country’s natural resources. Wednesday, at the American Geophysical Union Annual Meeting, a team of researchers at NRCan provided an update on Canada’s planned earthquake early warning system and discussed their efforts to engage the public.