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Rare North East earthquake gives scientists important data

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UB MCEER Director Andre Filiatrault

By Joyce Kryszak

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wbfo/local-wbfo-909280.mp3

Buffalo, NY – A magnitude five earthquake from Canada shook homes and buildings throughout Western New York for several seconds Wednesday afternoon.

The earth shifted on Wednesday ten miles beneath the ground about 250 miles away from Buffalo near Ottawa. That seemingly distant and deep seismic event sent strong tremors stretching as far away as Maine and Michigan.

Andre Filiatrault is the director of UB's earthquake research center, known as MCEER. Filiatrault explained that the compacted soil in the North East causes tremors from earthquakes to travel farther than those in California.

No damage or injury occurred locally. But officials said there was some damage to buildings in Ottawa, including the parliament building.

Wednesday's earthquake was the second strongest in this region in 22 years. In 1988 a magnitude six quake hit near Quebec. Lesser magnitude events have occurred locally in between.

Filiatrault said predicting if or when another moderate quake like this one might hit is still difficult. He said that science is in its infancy. But he said the data collected from this event will be helpful to their research with the simulators at UB's earthquake lab.

Ironically, Filiatrault said a member of his team was in Ottawa yesterday to assist with Canada's emergency preparedness in the event of an earthquake.