News / Edmonton

'Everybody's talking about it': Alberta Beach residents awoken by loud bang

Seismologists say 'icequake' responsible after cracks appeared in the ground early Tuesday morning

A detail of a seismograph showing earthquake data.

JOHN HAGEN / Hamilton Spectator FILE

A detail of a seismograph showing earthquake data.

Scientists are blaming a rare "icequake" for a loud bang that shook Alberta Beach.

Residents of the village west of Edmonton were woken up by the noise around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, and later found cracks in the ground and some buildings.

“A lot of people thought something had hit their house or something had exploded, like a gas explosion it was such a loud bang,” Alberta Beach Mayor Jim Benedict told Metro.

Ryan Schultz, a seismologist with the Alberta Energy Regulator, said the bang was most likely the result of a cryoseism, or icequake, caused by a drastic rise in temperature.

“When you get a sudden change in temperature, expanding or contracting of water can change the pressure and stress of the ground, and then that can suddenly release as a pop or a bang,” he explained.

Schultz said icequakes have only occurred in Alberta a handful of times in the last two decades.

He confirmed that two seismic events of 2.0 magnitude were detected late Monday night south of Alberta Beach, but the exact location was hard to pinpoint due to the low magnitude and the sparsity of nearby seismic stations.

He said that activity was measured around 11:45 p.m., however, meaning there could have been two separate events overnight.

“It’s possible that whatever happened at 1:30, that we just didn’t detect those ones,” Schultz said.

Village administrator Dennis Evans in Val Quentin, just south of Alberta Beach, said he didn't hear from any residents affected by the quake.

Benedict said there has been no serious damage reported in Alberta beach, but the big bang is the “talk of the town.”

“Nobody’s seen it happen like this before, apparently,” he said.

Benedict said he started noticing cracks and heaves in Lac St. Anne around the same time, and loud popping sounds are coming from the lake that usually aren’t heard until spring.

Schultz said those are also likely a result of the warming temperatures.

In Edmonton, dozens of pipes burst around the city Monday night and Tuesday morning after temperatures dramatically increased following a week-long cold snap.

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