Massive Tsunami Caused by Kīlauea: Truth or Fiction?

May 11, 2018, 6:59 AM HST (Updated May 11, 2018, 7:20 AM)

Viral videos and posts have been circulating the internet claiming a tsunami of biblical proportions is possible.

One of the viral posts reads as follows:

“Three days ago, I reported of the possibility of the Kīlauea Volcano portion of the Big Island breaking off and creating a biblical tsunami that would likely hit the West Coast of California, Central America and South America. Little did I realize that my concern would be voiced by the USGS as well. An area of land on the south point of the volcano known as the Hilina Slump—about the size of Manhattan—has been moving and can break off into the ocean, sending a tsunami toward the West Coast with 100-plus foot waves moving at 500 miles and hour… they say the bosses at USGS know about this and are intentionally concealing the information for fear of causing panic.”

The post goes on to say that media outlets have been told not to say anything about this possibility for the same reasons.

Big Island Now Meteorologist Malika Dudley spoke to former University of Hawai‘i at Hilo professor and tsunami expert Dr. Walter Dudley (her father) to filter truth from fiction and assess the actual risk.


“I have my concerns… I think the odds at any moment are that it’s NOT going to happen, but it has happened in the past and it will happen again,” said Dr. Dudley.

In the video interview, Dr. Dudley answers these questions:

  • Could a volcanic explosion trigger a land slide and tsunami?
  • How possible is it the Hilina Slump could “break off”?
  • If a landslide occurs and triggers a tsunami, what is the travel time to the other islands?
  • When evacuating a tsunami zone, how high and how far inland is safe?
  • Are you worried?

You can also check out Big Island Now’s tsunami series for Tsunami Awareness Month:

How to Prepare For a Tsunami, Nature’s Warning Signs:
Tsunami Awareness Month, The Information You Need:

Malika Dudley
Malika was born and raised in Hilo. She began her career in news at KGMB9 in 2007. As a part of their weather team, Malika was nominated for two Emmy Awards and won the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Journalism Award for her reporting on Big Island tsunami damage in 2011. She is a Certified Meteorologist and graduate of the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a BA in Speech Communication and French. Malika leads the Big Island Now weather team and enjoys conducting video interviews for Big Island Now's news and entertainment sections. The former Miss Hawaii is also a black belt in karate, avid waterwoman, jewelry designer, singer, TV host and mommy blogger.


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