Bob Crosby, a software quality control specialist with Ocean Networks Canada, will speak about B.C.’s new earthquake early warning system and how it can help provide more accurate, timely information to prevent injuries and loss of life and property in the event of a mega thrust earthquake off the B.C. coast. (Photo submitted)

Expert will detail B.C.’s earthquake early warning system at Nanoose talk

Bob Crosby presents Saturday, Nov. 16, as part of VIU ElderCollege speakers series

Scientists estimate the likelihood of a major earthquake hitting the south B.C. coast within the next 50 years is about one in three.

Scientists can’t predict when a major quake will strike, but they can now give more accurate and timely warnings about shock waves and intensity, and that’s the subject of the next VIU ElderCollege talk Nov. 16.

The last time a major quake hit the area was in 1700. It ravaged the Pacific Northwest coastline and triggered a four-storey tall tsunami that crossed the Pacific Ocean and slammed into Japan. The tectonic plates of the earth’s crust that meet in an area called the Cascadia subduction zone have continued to build pressure off the coast of Vancouver Island ever since.

Scientists are warned of the arrival of an earthquake’s shock waves and the intensity of the quake itself thanks to an earthquake early warning system that has been installed off the B.C. coast by Oceans Network Canada.

Bob Crosby, who worked on the development of the early warning project at ONC, presents Earthquake Early Warning for B.C. in the final talk in the Vancouver Island University ElderCollege Saturday speaker series.

“A number of countries have an early warning system, such as Japan, Mexico, Turkey, Italy and China, but Oceans Network Canada hopes to be the first in the world to use GPS in real time to give us more accurate estimates of large magnitude earthquakes,” Crosby said in a press release. “Above magnitude 6.5 it is difficult to produce an accurate estimate since a 6.5 and a 9.0 look somewhat similar to the software. This makes it hard to give first responders accurate information. GPS will hopefully reduce this error.”

Crosby, who was a software quality control specialist at Ocean Networks Canada, will talk about the challenges of creating and installing B.C.’s earthquake early warning system, which included installing sensors on the ocean floor 80 kilometres off the B.C. coast at depths of 2,600 metres, and how accurate information can translate into better preparation for communities in the moments before the shaking starts and preventative measures that can help reduce deaths, injuries and property losses.

Crosby’s talk is open to the public and happens Saturday, Nov. 16, 10 a.m. to noon, at Nanoose Place, 2925 Northwest Bay Rd. Admission is $10 cash at the door. Admission is free for youths under 18.

To learn more about Crosby’s presentation or VIU ElderCollege, visit or call 1-866-734-6252.

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