Anahim Hotspot - Future and Present - Seismology


The Anahim hotspot is the only notable earthquake zone in the Canadian Cordillera away from the British Columbia Coast. A series of <3.0 magnitude earthquakes began October 9, 2007 with its epicenter in the McNaughton Lake region near Nazko Cone, which could signal the resumption of intense subterranean volcanic activity in the area. Thirty-four such <3.0 magnitude earthquakes were observed on October 10, 2007 alone. Since then more than 1,000 small earthquakes have been recorded. They are thought to have originated 25 km (16 mi) below the surface, but none of them have been felt by people. The cause of this seismic activity is believed to be the upwelling of 500,000 m3 (650,000 cu yd) of magma, because the area is not close to any faults or tectonic plate boundaries. This is the first indication of potential volcanic activity in Canada since around 1830 to 1850 in northwestern British Columbia.

The recent earthquake swarms in the Anahim hotspot have aroused much interest from volcanologists and seismologists since they began on October 9, 2007. More than 1,000 earthquakes have now been detected, and seven stations are now monitoring the area for further activity. The region's earthquake swarms have given rise to speculation of a possible eruption, a possibility estimated around 10%. An eruption in the region would not cause many fatalities, due to the region's remoteness, but people engaged in logging and ranching in the region are at risk. The greatest threats would be from forest fires and possible health risks to those in the area if volcanic gasses or ash columns were released. Also, the Anahim hotspot is situated in the immediate proximity of a major air traffic route, and volcanic ash reduces visibility and can cause jet engine failure as well as damage to other aircraft systems.

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