Earthquake Monitoring Network Upgrade Blog

October 30, 2017 - Part 2 - Northern Ontario Station Upgrades

Welcome back! This story is a continuation from Blog 10 (October 4, 2017) and Blog 11 (October 17, 2017) – scroll down to read. Look at the photos to see the installation at these six seismic stations in the Northern Ontario region.

  • Pukaskwa National Park
  • Atikokan
  • Experimental Lakes
  • Sioux Lookout
  • Pickle Lake
  • Thunder Bay
Map of the seismic network in Ontario

Pukaskwa National Park, ON

Vault at Pukaskwa National Park in thick bush

The crew: bug nets required!

Atikokan, ON

The old Polaris station at Atikokan was located right at the top of a lovely giant 40-foot rock formation. Good thing we only had 30 bags of concrete and 16 lead batteries to take up to the top!

Updating electronics (picture 1)

Updating electronics (picture 2)

The crew built a permanent walkway to try to make climbing the rock little safer (especially in the rain).

Experimental Lakes Area, ON

Another Polaris station upgrade – here we are wiring up the new solar panels. Bug nets required.

The completed station, situated on a very coarse-grained granite.

Sioux Lookout, ON

Seismometer in vault (picture 1)

Seismometer in vault (picture 2)

Pickle Lake, ON

Pickle Lake, by far, had the most beautiful geology of any site yet. Located on the metamorphic assemblages of the Pickle Lake northern greenstone belt, and next to a water-filled copper mine open pit – it sure was a site for sore eyes.

Looks like a Group of Seven painting.

The crew at Pickle Lake

Thunder Bay (Ontario)

Our final site of the second trip – we ran power and Ethernet cables from this roadside shed to the vault located approximately 60 metres feet into the bush.

Come back soon to read more stories on the upgrades to the Canadian National Seismograph Network!

October 17, 2017 - Part 1 - Northern Ontario Station Upgrades

Hello! My name is Krista Kaski and I am a summer student working for the Canadian Hazard Information Service at Natural Resources Canada. This summer I have had the fantastic experience of installing and upgrading eleven seismic stations in the Northern Ontario region. As a southern-Ontarian, it was amazing to see what this beautiful huge province has to offer, including trees lakes and moose!

Map of the network in Ontario

Before the crew left for the field, we spent several weeks packing each and every piece of equipment, from nuts and bolts and hardware to solar panels and batteries to vaults and concrete and everything in between. Additionally, we spent that time configuring and preparing the electronics so they were ready to go when we got there.

Fieldwork consisted of both new installations as well as upgrades to existing AC and DC powered sites. At each site, we would have to build forms and fill them with concrete, then install the new vaults and seismometers and accelerometers. Depending on the type of site, we would also install either new solar panels and batteries, and update the electronics, or a "station on a stick" that could connect to AC power.

Our crew consisted of another student, Josh Beach, as well, two NRCan staff, Calvin Andrews and Andy Tran. We went on two fieldwork trips: the first to northeastern Ontario and the second to northwestern Ontario.

See below for tons of pictures and a little bit about each station on the first field trip!

Northern Ontario Field Trip 1:

  1. Kipawa
  2. Sudbury
  3. Kapuskasing
  4. Geraldton
  5. Kirkland Lake

Kipawa, QC

Lake view from the nearby town of Témiscaming

Lake view from the nearby town of Témiscaming

When we arrived our work was to dig through layers of moss and trees to reveal a metasandstone bedrock, and power wash it clean. This was done to make sure that the seismometers get an ideal signal from the ground.


Before – Forms are built and ready to be filled!

After – Concrete dry, weak and strong motion vaults and sensors installed, and the AC power manager and digitizer installed on the post.

Sudbury, ON

At Sudbury we installed a brand new DC-power site and weak motion vault and sensor. We had an interesting time getting our trucks through the soaking-wet and muddy field.


Before installation was fully complete, Calvin Andrews had to do some major clear-cutting to ensure the solar panels would get enough light for the foreseeable future.

The crew!

Kapuskasing, ON

Kapuskasing was probably the most black-fly heavy site we have been to all year. Luckily, we got the new weak and strong motion sensors in and finished updates to the 20+ year old shed within about a day and a half!

Kirkland Lake Gold Mine

At the Kirkland Lake Gold Mine (and at several later stations) we performed an upgrade to an old station originally used for a now disbanded seismicity project called Polaris. This involved installing a new vault and sensor, replacing the old solar panels and batteries, and upgrading the electronics. All in a day’s work!

Come back soon to see photographs of the second part of fieldwork in northern Ontario:

  1. Pukaskwa National Park
  2. Atikokan
  3. Experimental Lakes
  4. Sioux Lookout
  5. Pickle Lake
  6. Thunder Bay

October 4, 2017 - 67 Stations Upgraded

We have been very busy working across Canada to upgrade the network. Sixty–seven stations installed with new seismic sensors!! All that from August 2016 to September 2017. Check out the map – blue diamonds are the sites that have been upgraded.

Map of the network

The next two blog stories will feature northern Ontario’s recent upgrades. In the meantime, a bit more about seismicity in northern Ontario.

Northern Ontario usually has a very low level of seismic activity. The map below shows the location of 176-recorded earthquakes since 1985:

  • One event was magnitude 4.2 in 2006 (62km northwest from Cochrane);
  • Eighteen events ranged in magnitude 3.0 to 3.8;
  • the rest less than magnitude 3;
  • Twenty-one of the 176 earthquakes were felt.

In the past, two magnitude 5 earthquakes occurred in northeastern Ontario: northeast of Kapuskasing in 1928 and northern Michigan (United States) in 1905.

Map of the network
Map of the network

Why do we have seismic stations in Northern Ontario if the seismic activity is usually very low? Seismic hazard assessment!

It is important to be able to assess seismic hazard in all parts of the country. Seismic hazard analysis provides information to the National Building Code of Canada. Knowing how to design and build structures to withstand potential seismicity in an area allows for safer building practices.

Back in 1982, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited wanted to look at seismicity rates and patterns in northern Ontario*. This was to study seismic hazard estimates for structures including potential nuclear waste repositories. Many stations are required in order to accurately locate smaller magnitude (M < 3) earthquakes. At that time, there were only three stations (Lakehead, Sudbury and Kirkland Lake; now closed). To do the study, six new stations were installed (Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay, Geraldton, Kapuskasing, Eldee, Chalk River). More stations permitted the location of smaller earthquakes. As well, having more data on the frequency of smaller earthquakes provides information on frequency of rare larger events.

To view seismicity in northern Ontario during the last 30 days, click here: http://www.earthquakescanada.nrcan.gc.ca/index-en.php?CHIS_SZ=non

Come back next week to read Blog 11: Part 1 - Northern Ontario Station Upgrades!

Additional information and references:

*reference: Seismicity studies for long-term seismic-hazard assessment in the northern Ontario part of the Canadian Shield