Canadian seismologists are keeping a close eye on the earthquake that hit Mexico on Thursday night, looking for lessons that can be applied to British Columbia’s similar tectonic landscape.

The magnitude 8.1 earthquake was the most powerful one recorded in Mexico in more than a century. It hit off the southern coast of the country, toppling buildings and killing dozens.

John Cassidy, a seismologist with Natural Resources Canada, said although the earthquake was unusually large it was not unexpected. Mexico, just like Canada’s West Coast, sits on one of the Earth’s subduction zones and is prone to shaking when the oceanic tectonic plates shift.

“It’s a very similar situation to our coast,” Cassidy told CBC’s host of On The Coast Stephen Quinn. “We also have an ocean plate, called the Juan de Fuca plate, that is being pushed towards us at about four to five centimetres each year. So it’s exactly the same type of tectonic setting.”

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