While there is no evidence of any major destructive earthquakes in Alberta’s history, hundreds of low to moderate magnitude earthquakes have occurred since 1950. Studies have shown that depending on geological conditions, certain types of wells and hydraulic fracturing operations can cause earthquakes, so it’s important that we understand why this happens and how we can manage it.
Scientists at the Alberta Geological Survey (AGS), a branch of the AER, use over 50 monitoring systems to measure and research seismic activity across Alberta.
Where We Monitor Earthquakes
We monitor seismic activity across the province. In areas where the likelihood of an earthquake occurring is higher, we have developed monitoring and reporting requirements that companies must follow. Companies that don’t comply with our requirements will face enforcement action. In certain cases, we will shut down operations until we are convinced they are safe to operate.
Learn about our seismic protocols for:
The AER has created specific seismic protocols for these areas to limit the impact and potential of induced earthquakes from hydraulic fracturing. Each protocol sets different “traffic light” systems for these areas based on their geology and surface structures (e.g., hydroelectric dams), which companies must follow for monitoring and reporting seismic activity to the AER.
To monitor earthquakes, we use the Regional Alberta Observatory for Earthquake Studies Network (RAVEN) monitoring stations in conjunction with networks operated by other research organizations, including Natural Resources Canada, the University of Alberta, the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, the University of Western Ontario, and the University of Calgary.
At the heart of each monitoring station is a seismometer, a device that measures ground vibrations. Vibrations are digitally recorded and processed by the AGS to determine the location and magnitude of the event. Next, we analyze earthquake locations, magnitudes and trends using state-of-the-art techniques to better discern the nature of these quakes.
Information about seismic events in Alberta can be found using our Alberta Earthquakes Interactive Seismic Events Map.