Ottawa had a little earthquake (magnitude 4.5) yesterday evening at 8:39 pm EST. Ottawa is Canada’s biggest high tech centre (or at least was before the dot.bomb, drawing more investment than Toronto). Like the San Francisco Bay area, Ottawa is built on top of a series of geological fault lines; however, ours never result in worse than a minor tremor every 5-10 years. Our tech industry is (relatively) minor as well. Does the severity of fault lines correlate with high tech success?
Maybe a little danger gives people an edge. Tech people in the Bay area live every day wondering if they’re going to fall into the Pacific tomorrow, and bus ads in San Francisco talk about stocking up on food and flashlights (I don’t think anyone’s every going to count on timely help from FEMA again). What are we worried about in Ottawa? A bad skating season on the Rideau Canal?
Note to Route 128 companies: to find the edge you’ll need to compete seriously with the Bay area, you’ll have to come up with a looming natural disaster. A mega tsunami caused by a volcano in the Canary Islands might fit the bill.
I think Ottawa is fairly safe from the mega-tsunami. When it happens (say in the next 200 years), worst case should be that it destroys a 30km (20 mile) deep stretch of the east coast of North America (not sure about South America). On the other hand, people who live on Manhattan Island shouldn’t count on having enough time to out of the 30km destruction zone (there will be about 5 hours warning as I remember; I don’t know how much of Manhattan you could evacuate in that time).
I’m still more worried about being run over by traffic than I am about any natural disasters, though. Perhaps Ottawa could just dump its jaywalking laws, and live on the edge like the UK does.