USGS HVO Information Statement — Magnitude-4.4 Earthquake beneath northwest flank of Mauna Kea, Hawai‘i

Release Date:

The U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) recorded a magnitude-4.4 earthquake located beneath Mauna Kea's northwest flank on Monday, December 14, at 9:27 a.m., HST. 

The U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) recorded a magnitude-4.4 earthquake located beneath Mauna Kea's northwest flank on Monday, December 14, at 9:27 a.m., HST. 

The earthquake was centered about 20 km (12 miles) southeast of Waimea, Hawai‘i at a depth of 25 km (16 miles). A map showing its location is posted on the HVO website at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/earthquakes. More details are available at the National Earthquake Information Center website at https://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/hv72281637.  

Strong shaking, with maximum Intensity of VI, has been reported across the Island of Hawai‘i. At that intensity, light damage to buildings or structures could be expected.  The earthquake was reported felt over most of the Island of Hawai‘i, and as of Monday morning, December 14, USGS has received over 685 felt reports on their "Did you feel it?" Web site (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/dyfi). 

The region surrounding Mauna Kea's summit has persistent deep earthquake activity, with over 30 earthquakes located at depths greater than 20 km every year. These earthquakes are typically small. The northwest flank of Mauna Kea has experienced only 9 earthquakes greater than magnitude-4.0, within the past 60 years. Deep earthquakes in this region are most likely caused by the structural adjustment of the Earth’s crust due to the heavy load of Mauna Kea. 

According to HVO acting Scientist-in-Charge David Phillips, “This earthquake was widely felt across the Island of Hawai‘i, and even as far away as O‘ahu. Please be aware that aftershocks are possible and may be felt. HVO continues to monitor Hawaiian volcanoes for any changes.” 

HVO will issue additional messages and alert level changes as warranted by changing activity. For information on recent earthquakes in Hawaii and eruption updates, visit the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website at usgs.gov/hvo.    

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Links and contacts within this release are valid at the time of publication. 

HVO Contact Information: askHVO@usgs.gov