Big bang, possibly an ice quake, shakes Alberta village during the night

ALBERTA BEACH — Some residents of a village west of Edmonton awoke earlier this week to a very loud bang, and in the morning they reported cracks in homes and the ground.

Alberta Beach mayor Jim Benedict says people thought something had hit their houses — or that something had fallen on their houses — very early Tuesday morning.

Alberta Energy Regulator spokesman Jordan Fitzgerald says staff at the regulator’s Alberta Geological Survey confirm there were two seismic events of approximately 2.0 magnitude late Monday night.

Fitzgerald says staff can’t confirm their exact location due to the low magnitude and the sparsity of nearby seismic stations, but he says initial information shows they were consistent with reports of an earthquake near Alberta Beach.

He says staff believe there may have been a natural earthquake or an “ice quake,” which he says occurs when cold winter temperatures cause groundwater to freeze quickly, causing the ground to suddenly crack.

Benedict says the water table in the area is high and says it’s possible it froze and “popped.”

“I slept through it. I had people phoning me saying they’d heard it at 1:30 and they thought there was an explosion somewhere,” Benedict said.

Benedict said the reports of possible damage were at homes close to the shore of Lac Ste. Anne.

He said on Tuesday, he noticed the ice on the lake had heaved and open water appeared. He said popping noises were coming from the lake all day.

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