Some people were shaken awake and some miners stuck underground in southeast Saskatchewan Monday morning when a magnitude 3.8 earthquake hit.
Earthquakes Canada said it happened around 4:40 a.m., and was centred about 32 kilometres east-southeast of Yorkton.
“It was recorded at 3.8 magnitude, which isn’t considered big,” said Geological Survey Canada Seismologist, Dr Honn Kaw .
SaskPower reported a widespread outage in the area that impacted Moosomin, Rocanville, Whitewood, Esterhazy, Stockholm and Wapella. The company said the quake caused problems at a switching station, taking out power to about 2,000 residential customers.
A power outage isn’t a big deal for those at home sleeping, but it was a problem for the Potash Corp mine near Rocanville.
When the power went out early Monday the mine had to switch to backup power, however, that wasn’t enough to run the hoists so about 40 people were stuck underground for a while.
A Potash Corp spokesperson, Randy Burton, said the people underground went to refuge stations with power, air, and water until the power came back on. The workers were then slowly brought back up to the surface – the last person coming up at about 11:30 a.m.
The company hasn’t sent crews back down since, but it’s not because of the outage.
“We’re just starting our annual maintenance shut down, so this happened just by coincidence at the same time,” said Burton.
Everyone was alright after the incident, and Burton said there was no damage to the mine.
Not Sask.’s first earthquake
Kaw said this type of thing isn’t out of the ordinary of Saskatchewan.
“The region, historically, has recorded several smaller earthquakes like that, but we haven’t really received any event that’s big enough to cause any damage,” he said.
This isn’t the first time an earthquake has been felt in the area. According to Natural Resources Canada, there have been 12 earthquakes in the region at magnitude 3.0 or higher since 1981. The quake on Monday morning was the largest reported thus far.
In 2012 there was an earthquake reported near Esterhazy.
No damage or injuries have been reported – Kaw believes that’s likely because it was centred in a rural area.