Abstract

Quebec City is rated sixth for earthquake risk among Canadian cities but ranks first or second in terms of earthquake damage over the course of its 400-year history. The examples of earthquake damage in the Quebec City region between 1608 and 2008 were collected in a single database. For each significant earthquake, the database provides the description of damage together with the geographic position, the corresponding intensity on the Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) scale, and the supporting document. Historically, Quebec City was subject to several moderate to strong earthquakes with epicenters in the Charlevoix seismic zone (80–180 km epicentral distance) in 1663, 1791, 1860, 1870, and 1925; and in the Saguenay region (150 km epicentral distance) in 1988. M ∼ 5 earthquakes at shorter epicentral distances were also felt but caused only minor damage. These facts bring to light that certain wards, mostly located in the lower part of the city, are more likely to sustain higher levels of ground motion in future moderate to strong earthquakes. This information correlates fairly well with known near-surface shear-wave velocities, natural periods, and geotechnical properties. Knowledge of these more-hazardous areas is important for land-use planning and emergency preparedness.

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