Maui Quake Likely Caused by Same Mechanism Responsible for 2006 “Twin Quakes”

March 29, 2016, 5:03 PM HST · Updated March 29, 5:03 PM
Wendy Osher · 0 Comments
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Maui earthquake, 3/28/2016. Image courtesy USGS.

Maui earthquake, 3/28/2016. Image courtesy USGS.

Officials with the US Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory tell Maui Now that the cause of Monday’s 3.6 earthquake on Maui was likely due to flexure of the oceanic crust beneath the islands.

Scientists say this was the same mechanism responsible for the “twin earthquakes” off the northwest shore of the Big Island of Hawai`i on Oct. 15, 2006, but much weaker.  Those incidents included an initial 6.7 earthquake, followed by a 6.1 aftershock seven minutes later.

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Scientists pointed toward this explanation due to the great depth of Monday’s quake.

According to the HVO, the weight of the islands pushes down on the oceanic crust which bends under the weight. When it flexes enough, scientists say, the crust breaks, resulting in an earthquake.

While its a more common occurrence on the Island of Hawai`i, HVO scientists say a few do occur beneath the islands to the northwest.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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