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Earthquake Hits Hawaii’s Big Island But No Tsunami Alert Issued

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This Saturday, around 11:30 pm, Hawaii’s Big Island just felt a 4.7 scale earthquake very close to the city of Kailua-Kona. The epicenter was just underneath the Hualalai volcano, but according to reports, it shook all islands, although not that intense further away. 

Hualalai volcano in the distance

The Richter scale is used universally and measures the intensity of an earthquake. A 4,7 indicates a light to moderate intensity with no broad destruction potential, so no significant damages were noticed on the islands and no injuries or deaths.

Hualalai is Hawaii’s westernmost, third-youngest, and third-most active volcano. Since measurements began, the volcano hasn’t shown very intense activity regarding eruption and earthquakes, but a significant blast is expected sometime in the next century.

downtown kailua kona

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has an online report system for earthquakes, so anyone who feels it can report the place and its intensity. It is prevalent in Hawaii, as it is one of the most earthquake-prone states in the US. In this Saturday episode, more than 1,000 felt it and reported it. The most commonplace was the city of Kailua-Kona (as it was centered just 1.7 miles away) and across the entire island in a moderate intensity.

view of kailua-kona

Although more intensity on the island, the survey showed that it shook as far as Kapa’s in Kauai, a city on the east coast of Hawaii’s northernmost island.

According to the USGS, this event seems not to be related to any magmatic activity of any nearby more active volcanos such as Mauna Loa or Kilauea. The island of Hawaii has remarkably unique geography, having five volcanos spread across the island: Mauna Loa, Hualalai, Kilauea, Kohala, and the largest in size, Mauna Kea, which is considered the best place in the world to stargaze.

It happened at 11:30 pm on Saturday, and the leading cause of the earthquake was a “lateral slip along a sub-vertical fault.” Moreover, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued no tsunami alerts for this Saturday’s event. Fortunately, this was a very mild event, with no destructive, economic, geographical, or personal consequences.

kilauea volcano

Earthquakes are common in Hawaii. Geologically and geographically, the islands of Hawaii are considered emersions of land that rose above the sea level millions of years ago. That’s what makes it so utterly gorgeous and desired worldwide. However, it is also complicated, as nature can frequently be extreme in Hawaii, like rip currents swopping people into the ocean, hurricanes and storms, and even snow warnings.

Although considered an active volcano, Hualalai has not recorded many earthquakes. Since 1997, “There have only been two earthquakes with magnitudes larger than 4.0 beneath Hualalai volcano, including Saturday’s event,” says the report. It was centered 7 miles beneath the surface, 1,7 miles from Kailua-Kona, and 167,6 from Hawaii’s largest city, Honolulu.

beach in kailua kona

The big island is, by far, the most prone to earthquakes, and the overwhelming majority of them happen around Kilauea. However, they can be felt across all islands and cities. The last major earthquake was recorded in 2018 when it reached 6,9 on the Richter scale, considered strong on the threshold to major. It caused a small tsunami but with no significant destruction whatsoever.

Massive earthquakes are not so common in Hawaii, but it’s always essential to be aware of things that may occur, especially now that all restrictions have been lifted. Tourism on the islands is soaring again, very close to pre-pandemic levels.


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