Loud bang Awakens Galiano Islanders at Epicentre of Friday Earthquake

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One loud bang and then nothing. That’s how Wade Chernoff describes the early morning earthquake that woke up Gulf Islanders and was felt as far away as the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. 

No damage or injuries have been reported from the 3.6 magnitude earthquake that took place around 4:13 a.m. Friday morning. The US Geological Survey (USGS) logged the epicentre of the earthquake 12 kilometres east northeast of Ganges at a depth of 17.3 kilometres. 

“I joked when it hit that ‘Wow, we must be in the epicentre or something.’ It was just a big bang,” Chernoff said. “It was just quite an impact . . . just like one sharp explosion almost.”

A USGS map shows the epicentre near Ellis Road on Galiano Island, very near Chernoff’s home on that road. A few years ago, Chernoff found out he lives very close to a fault line that runs from Georgeson Bay in Active Pass across the island to just behind his home and near the golf course. Perhaps the quake happened along this fault line, he said. 

Chernoff was dead asleep at the time, and the bang woke both he and his wife Jing Wang. Their cat Weeba was also up and acting strangely.

“Normally he’d be sleeping heavily but no, he was up and just kept staring in silence just wondering what happened.”

Right away Wang knew it had been an earthquake, while Chernoff thought it might have been a tree hitting their house and went outside to check. Both had experienced earthquakes before with shaking and rattling, yet this one was only a bang not followed by any aftershocks. 

Rachelle Hayden was one of the few people awake before the earthquake, owing to her job at the Sturdies Bay Bakery.

“I was actually making myself a coffee and I heard rumbling and it sounded like it was coming my way,” she said, describing the sound as a loud one which “literally sounded like the earth was moving.” 

“I’ve never experienced an earthquake before, so I really had no idea what was going on . . . and then the house started shaking, and so that’s when I clued in,” Hayden said.

Her home on Gulf Drive was rattling, rather than swaying, and she could feel the earthquake shaking the ground. 

“At that moment I felt like, ‘Wow, this is Mother Nature.’ And anything can happen and I couldn’t control it,” Hayden said.

The shaking lasted less than 30 seconds, during which time Hayden said she froze. She didn’t have time to think of her emergency plan or of positioning herself in a safer spot in the house. 

Hayden has since spoken to many people at the bakery, the “epicentre for coffee” on Galiano, she said, an apt joke after the morning’s excitement. Some customers told her they slept through the earthquake while others described rattling waking them up. People’s pets also had a diversity of experiences, with some people’s dogs barking like crazy and others’ cats sleeping right through it. 

Many who posted online about the earthquake confirm they experienced a loud bang, around 4:13 a.m., with some reporting hearing rumbling before the bang. Others reported their homes shaking and windows rattling. A total of 783 people have so far reported to the USGS that they felt the quake, with responses from as far away as Sooke, Sechelt and Aldergrove. 

1 Comment
  1. Rebecca says

    I live on Woodland Drive and thought that Santa and his reindeer had made an emergency landing on my roof. The huge “thunk” roused our households from slumber. Santa and I are old friends of 70 years, so I posited that he got his dates mixed up, as I often do.
    A Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.🎄

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