An unusual earthquake struck in the middle of the Davis Strait which separates Canada from Greenland today; the moderate 4.3 magnitude earthquake struck at 3:29 pm ET today but fortunately did not trigger and tsunami for Canada, Greenland, nor the coast of the Northeast in the U.S.. The earthquake struck at a depth of 14.7 km.
Today’s earthquake was unusual because of it’s location and lack of recent seismic activity. While unusual, it isn’t completely unheard of. Last year, near the same location, a magnitude 5.2 earthquake struck. Nine years ago, in the same general area, a magnitude 4.1 earthquake struck.
The Davis Strait is a northern arm of the Atlantic Ocean that lies north of the Labrador Sea. It is west of Greenland and east of Baffin Island in Nunavut, Canada; Baffin Bay is to its north. The strait was named for the English explorer John Davis who explored the area while seeking a Northwest Passage.
The Davis Strait has complex geological features formed by the strike-slip faulting of the Ungava Fault Zone during Paleogene times about 45-60+ million years ago. While dynamic processes helped form it, in recent times, seismic activity is relatively quiet with not even minor earthquake activity detected here.
According to USGS, 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil deposits and 30% of the world’s undiscovered gas pockets are likely located around the Arctic, with areas west of Greenland in the Davis Straits likely holding significant natural reserves of these valuable substances.
Tsunamis are giant waves caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions under the sea. Out in the depths of the ocean, tsunami waves do not dramatically increase in height. But as the waves travel inland, they build up to higher and higher heights as the depth of the ocean decreases. According to the National Ocean Service, the speed of tsunami waves depends on ocean depth rather than the distance from the source of the wave. Tsunami waves may travel as fast as jet planes over deep waters, only slowing down when reaching shallow waters. While tsunamis are often referred to as tidal waves, this name is discouraged by oceanographers because tides have little to do with these giant waves. The location, depth, movement, and intensity associated with today’s earthquake wasn’t enough to trigger a tsunami from today’s earthquake.