News

Kīlauea Quake Rattles Much of Big Island

January 14, 2021, 6:40 PM HST
* Updated January 14, 8:52 PM
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UPDATED AT 6:50 PM, HST

National Weather Service Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, Ewa Beach, Hawai‘i
6:17 PM HST, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021

The United States Geological Service (USGS) has reported a 4.0-magnitude earthquake that occurred approximately 5.1 miles ENE of Pāhala on the Big Island in the Southwest Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reported the earthquake as a magnitude 4.4.

The precise coordinates of the quake are 19.2°N and 155.4°W. It occurred at an approximate depth of 20.6 miles. Shaking was initially reported as far away as Kailua-Kona, nearly 78 miles across the island, as well as in several other areas across East and West Hawai‘i.

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The national weather service has indicated that no tsunami is expected as a result of the earthquake, but that several areas may have experienced shaking.

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The following is a report released by the Hawai‘i Volcano Observatory following the quake:

KĪLAUEA INFORMATION STATEMENT

The US Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) recorded a magnitude-4.0 earthquake located beneath the south part of the Island of Hawai‘i, in the district of Kaʻū, on Thursday, Jan. 14, at 6:15 p.m., HST.

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Moderate shaking, with maximum Intensity of V on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale, has been reported across parts of the Island of Hawai‘i. At that intensity, significant damage to buildings or structures is not expected. The USGS “Did you feel it?” service received over 580 felt reports within the first hour of the earthquake.

According to HVO acting Scientist-in-Charge, David Phillips, the earthquake had no observable impact on the ongoing eruption at Kīlauea’s summit at the time of HVO’s information statement.

“This earthquake is part of the ongoing seismic swarm under the Pāhala area, which started in August 2019. Unlike most events associated with this swarm, this earthquake was widely felt across the Island of Hawai‘i, and as far away as Oʻahu. Please be aware that aftershocks are possible and may be felt. HVO continues to monitor Hawaiian volcanoes for any changes. The Alert Levels / Color Codes remain at WATCH/ORANGE for Kilauea and at ADVISORY/YELLOW for Mauna Loa at this time,” he said.

Earthquakes beneath Kīlauea’s lower Southwest Rift Zone occur mostly at depths of 15-25 miles, beneath the town of Pāhala and extending about six miles offshore. Earthquakes in this region have been observed at least as far back as the 1960s and are posited to be related to deep magma pathways under the island.

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