6.6 magnitude quake rattles west coast

Tue Nov 17, 2009 5:09pm EST
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - A 6.6 magnitude earthquake rattled residents on the west coast of Canada on Tuesday, but did not cause damage or trigger a tsunami, U.S. and Canadian officials said.

The underwater quake was centered 260 km (162 miles) southwest of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), off the southern tip of the Queen Charlotte Islands, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

It was quickly followed by a 5.7 magnitude aftershock.

"It was felt over a very broad area," said John Cassidy, a senior researcher at the Pacific Geoscience Center in Sidney, British Columbia, Canada's main earthquake research center on the Pacific Coast.

Earthquakes are common in the area where the Pacific and North American tectonic plates meet, and the temblor appears to have been the result of the two plates sliding against each other, geologists said.

Cassidy said quakes of the type that occurred on Tuesday rarely cause a tsunami and it did not trigger any alerts or warnings for coastal communities in Canada and the United States.

There have been about 100 small aftershocks.

"There will probably be more aftershocks for the next few days or perhaps a week or more," Cassidy said.

Residents of the lightly populated Queen Charlotte Islands, which are also called by the native name Haida Gwaii, said the initial quake seem to last longer than the quakes they normally get in the area.

"I think we're fine; it was more like a shaking," Carol Kulesha, mayor of the community of Queen Charlotte City, told Citytv in Vancouver.

(Reporting by Allan Dowd and Nicole Mordant; editing by Rob Wilson)