The Thursday morning news in much of North America featured a story about a 5.8 earthquake last night in western Montana that was felt in Southern Alberta. Dave Eberth 1Dr. Dave Eberth
 
While earthquakes in this area are rare, the people who study the earth are not surprized.
 
"Because this used to be the margin of North America hundreds of millions of years ago, there's some inherent instability below the surface," explained Dr. Dave Eberth, a geologist with the Royal Tyrrell Museum. "That inherent instability sometimes gets activated by collisions that are ongoing today out on the west coast."
 
"We've got a very active west coast and then we've got this inherited instability many kilometres underneath our feet and every once in a while there's a little bit of an adjustment," he elaborated. "Stresses and forces build up and those blocks that have been welded together over millenia adjust themselves a little bit, resulting in an earthquake."
 
While Wednesday night's quake was one of the strongest in recent memory, there are no reports of serious damage or injuries. So, is there cause for worry here?
 
"Any given lithospheric shift is possible just about anywhere in the world, but by and large, this area is about as stable as you can get on the planet," assured Eberth.
 
 

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