23 June 1946

The 1946 Vancouver Island earthquake strikes Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

The 1946 Vancouver Island earthquake was a significant seismic event that occurred on June 23, 1946, off the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. It is known as one of the largest earthquakes to have struck the region in the 20th century.

Magnitude and Location: The earthquake had a magnitude of 7.3 on the Richter scale. Its epicenter was located approximately 15 kilometers (9 miles) southwest of Courtenay, a town on Vancouver Island.

Tectonic Setting: The earthquake was the result of the Juan de Fuca Plate subducting beneath the North American Plate. This region is part of the highly active tectonic boundary known as the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

Damage and Impact: The earthquake caused widespread damage across Vancouver Island and the nearby mainland. The strongest effects were felt in the communities of Courtenay, Comox, and Campbell River. Buildings and infrastructure suffered significant damage, including collapsed chimneys, cracked walls, and landslides. A tsunami was generated as a result of the earthquake, causing additional destruction along the coast.

Casualties: The earthquake resulted in the loss of two lives. One person died in Courtenay due to a heart attack induced by the shaking, while another person was killed by a landslide near Campbell River.

Tsunami: The earthquake triggered a tsunami that affected the coastal areas of Vancouver Island and the surrounding region. The wave heights varied along the coast, with some areas experiencing waves as high as 5 meters (16 feet). The tsunami caused damage to harbors, boats, and coastal structures.

Response and Recovery: Following the earthquake, emergency response efforts were launched to assist those affected and to assess the damage. Rescue teams were dispatched to affected areas, and relief supplies were provided to the impacted communities. The process of rebuilding and recovery took several years.

Seismic Awareness: The 1946 Vancouver Island earthquake highlighted the need for increased seismic awareness and preparedness in the region. It contributed to the development of seismic monitoring networks and the implementation of stricter building codes in earthquake-prone areas.

The 1946 Vancouver Island earthquake serves as a reminder of the seismic activity that characterizes the Cascadia Subduction Zone and underscores the importance of ongoing efforts to mitigate the potential impacts of future earthquakes in the region.