Sunday, February 25, 2024

Magnitude 5.7 earthquake hits Hawaii’s Big Island; felt as far away as Honolulu

A 5.7 magnitude earthquake shook a remote part of the Big Island of Hawaii on Friday.

It was felt as far away as Honolulu, more than 200 miles away, according to reports – likely due to the depth of the quake, calculated at 23 miles below sea level.

An earlier estimate put the earthquake at a magnitude of 6.3.

At least 10 aftershocks of magnitude 2.5 and above were recorded less than an hour and a half after the initial tremor, or approximately one every 10 minutes. No tsunami occurred.

The Hawaii quake was not linked to a 4.6-magnitude quake that struck near Malibu hours later and was felt across a large swath of Southern California.

The Big Island earthquake, which occurred on the southeastern flank of Mauna Loa – the largest active volcano on the planet – had no apparent impact on it or the neighboring Kilauea volcano. , said the US Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

The earthquake, which occurred at 10:06 a.m. Hawaii time, caused “very strong” shaking in the town of Pahala, with a population of 1,900 in the south of the island, as defined by the modified Mercalli intensity scale. Very strong shaking can cause considerable damage to poorly constructed structures.

The earthquake and several aftershocks were visible throughout Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, said Jessica Ferracane, a park spokeswoman. The Kilauea Visitor Center in the park is about 23 miles from the epicenter and received light shaking, defined as just enough to shake dishes and windows. This can make it feel like a vehicle is hitting a building.

“It was definitely a good violent shake,” she said. The “visitor contact station was shaken very, very badly, but so far no damage has been reported.”

No problems were immediately apparent in this massive park, which covers more than 300,000 acres.

Earthquakes are common in Hawaii, and this part of the Big Island in particular “has seen a lot of seismic activity since maybe 2015, but especially since 2019, with a whole bunch of magnitude 5s this year,” said Mike Poland, geophysicist. with the US Geological Survey.

Earthquakes could be caused by instability in the Big Island’s deep magma plumbing systems. “It’s not directly related to volcanoes,” Poland said.

“We wouldn’t see, you know, magnitude 5.7, and then a week or even a month later, ‘there’s definitely going to be an eruption,'” Poland said. “The volcanoes are behaving somewhat independently of the activity that we see in this area that has been very seismically active in recent years.”

Tabitha Kamakawiwoole was working at a cafe in Pahala when she heard the earthquake coming before she felt it.

“You could hear it coming, but we couldn’t really tell how big it was,” the 19-year-old said. “I didn’t know which direction to run,” so she just waited, feeling the building shake.

“It’s been a long time since we had one this big,” she said.

She checked her home’s security cameras and noticed a few windows opening and things falling off shelves, but the biggest impact was her fish tank: “My poor fish experienced a little tsunami.”

But the fish is fine, Kamakawiwoole said, and she hasn’t heard of much other damage.

“It wasn’t that big,” she said. “I’ve lived on this island for a very long time, so earthquakes really [don’t] bothers me.

Light shaking was felt in Hilo, the island’s largest city, and Kailua-Kona, home to many of the island’s resorts on its west coast. Both communities are approximately 45 miles from the epicenter.

George Baranov was at his gym in Kailua-Kona when he felt what he thought was someone dropping a bunch of heavy weights.

“I felt the ground shaking pretty hard,” the 26-year-old said. He said he didn’t realize it was an earthquake until he told someone later.

Most people felt the quake, he said, but he hasn’t seen any damage so far, adding: “That happens a lot here.”

The epicenter was about 130 miles southeast of Kahului, Maui’s largest city, and about 135 miles from Honolulu.

Other recent large earthquakes on or near the Big Island include a magnitude 6.2 just off the south coast in 2021 and a magnitude 6.9 in 2018, which was shallower and more strongly felt. The 2018 earthquake occurred while the Kilauea volcano was erupting.

The most powerful earthquake to hit the island since Hawaii became a state was a magnitude 7.7 in 1975, with an epicenter about 27 miles southeast of Hilo.

“And it was really devastating.” It caused a tsunami in the southern part of the island of Hawaii which killed a few campers… on the beach [and] caused a lot of damage,” Poland said.

An even larger earthquake, probably magnitude 8, occurred in 1868 on the south coast of the Big Island. “And that caused landslides and mudslides that destroyed at least one Hawaiian community,” Poland said.

The earthquakes of 1868 and 1975 were shallower, “and they were caused by the movement of a very large fault which is located essentially at the boundary between the pre-existing ocean floor and the island itself”, explained the Poland. From time to time this surface “jumps and slides”.

In 2006, a magnitude 6.7 earthquake occurred off the northwest coast of the Big Island, about 17 miles northeast of Kailua-Kona. “And it actually damaged some resort areas in the North Kohala district, north of Kona,” Poland said. Historic structures were also damaged, including the Kalahikiola Congregational Church, which saw its unreinforced stone walls collapse.

“Hawaii is definitely earthquake country,” Poland said.

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