USGS HVO Press Release - Magnitude-4.6 earthquake southwest of Waimea, Island of Hawai‘i

Release Date:

The U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) recorded a magnitude-4.6 earthquakelocated beneath the Island of Hawai‘i on Sunday, March 20, at 6:43 a.m., HST. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has determined that no damaging tsunami was generated (http://ptwc.weather.gov/?region=2).

According to HVO, this earthquake was centered about 14.0 km (8.7 mi) east of Waikoloa and 19.8 km (12.3 mi) southwest of Waimea, at a depth of 31.8 km (19.8 mi). A map showing its location is posted on the HVO website at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/seismic/volcweb/earthquakes/.

The earthquake was widely felt on the Island of Hawai‘i. The USGS "Did you feel it?" Web site (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/dyfi/) received more than 480 felt reports within an hour of the earthquake. Most of the felt reports were from the Islands of Hawai‘i and Maui, with a few reports from O‘ahu, over 250 km (155 mi) from the epicenter. Moderate shaking (Intensity V) has been reported. At these shaking intensities, damage to buildings or structures is not expected.

As of 8:00 a.m., HST, no aftershocks of the magnitude-4.6 earthquake have been recorded.

Over the past 25 years, there have been 4 earthquakes with magnitudes greater than 4.0 and at depths greater than 20 km (12 mi) beneath the northern half of Hawai‘i Island, including today's event. Deep earthquakes in this region are most likely caused by structural adjustments within the Earth's crust due to the weight of the overlying volcanoes.

Adjustments beneath the northern half of Hawai‘i Island during past similar events, such as in March 2010, have produced a flurry of earthquakes, with many small aftershocks occurring for days after the main quake. Given this history, it is possible that additional small earthquakes may be recorded in the coming days.

According to HVO Scientist-in-Charge Christina Neal the earthquake had no apparent effect on Kīlauea Volcano's ongoing eruptions. "HVO monitoring networks have not detected any significant changes in activity at the summit or along the rift zones of Kīlauea resulting from the earthquake.

For information on recent earthquakes in Hawaii and eruption updates, visit the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website at hvo.wr.usgs.gov.

Daily updates about ongoing eruptions, recent images and videos of summit and East Rift Zone volcanic activity, maps, and data about recent earthquakes in Hawaii are posted on the HVO website at https://volcanoes.usgs.gov/observatories/hvo

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