A 3.9 magnitude earthquake struck around 6km north of the mountain town on Saturday evening, but no serious damage was caused.
Taimi Mulder, an earthquake seismologist with the Geological Survey of Canada, reported that the natural catastrophe hit 6km north of Banff, Alta, around Cascade Mountain at 6:33 p.m MT.
“We would describe this as being ‘lightly felt’ … there’s probably not any [damage] to be expected, but it was very close to Banff so we’ll see, things might have been knocked off shelves,” Mulder said.
The US Geological Survey had earlier reported the earthquake as a 4.4 magnitude, however, Mulder said Canada uses a different subset of stations that are near to the town, giving a more precise figure.
The quake happened at a depth of about 17.3km, with an uncertainty of +/-7km, the USGS’ tracking site said.
Karen Sorensen, the mayor of Banff, said she was watching a movie, when she felt rumbling under her feet, succeeded by a loud boom.
“And then the entire house shook … certainly the entire town felt it, my phones were lighting up,” she said.
She added that she’s heard from Canmore’s mayor that the nearby town experienced the earthquake too.
Karen said as of 7 p.m local time, no injuries or damage had been reported, and Banff will be checking all municipal buildings and monitoring below ground utilities.
‘A guttural shake’
Francis Hopkins, who operates the Grizzly House, one of the town’s major restaurants, said it earlier felt like a truck ran into the building.
He went outside to confirm that was not the case and reassure customers as what had really occurred.
“It was a strange feeling … there was a loud rumbling and shaking in the building,” Francis said. “It was unnerving. I don’t know how to describe it, sort of like a guttural shake.”
Alarms could be heard sounding in nearby buildings, Francis said, and people were out in the streets asking what had occurred.
Just some earthquakes, all smaller than this one, have been reported in the town in the last 10 years. The biggest to ever have hit the area, with a magnitude of 6.0, dates back to 1918.
Mulder said whereas earthquakes in the Rocky Mountains aren’t uncommon, this one was bigger than most.
Amy Campbell was buying a bottle of wine at a local liquor store when the quake happened.
“It was crazy, all the bottles were sort of rattling around us,” she said.
The rumbling lasted for just seconds.
Campbell said she initially wondered if an avalanche had occurred, and a worker at the store pondered whether a train had derailed.
“I didn’t really expect to feel an earthquake in Banff.”