Maui News

No Tsunami Threat to Hawai‘i After 4.5 Big Island Earthquake

By Wendy Osher
June 17, 2021, 4:49 PM HST
* Updated June 17, 5:55 PM
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M 4.1 – 8 km ENE of Pāhala, Hawaiʻi. 6.17.21 4:32 p.m. HST. PC: USGS

There is no tsunami threat to Hawai‘i following a 4.5 preliminary magnitude earthquake reported beneath the south part of the Island of Hawai‘i, in the district of Kaʻū, at 4:32 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021.

The US Geological Survey reports that the quake occurred at a depth of 32.8 km, and was about five miles WSW of Pāhala on the Big Island of Hawai‘i and was located in proximity to the following locations:

  • Pāhala, Hawai‘i, 8.9 km (5.5 mi) WSW
  • Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawai‘i, 60.3 km (37.4 mi) NE
  • Hilo, Hawai‘i, 64.3 km (40 mi) NNE
  • Kailua-Kona, Hawai‘i, 77.7 km (48.3 mi) NW
  • Honolulu, Hawai‘i, 345.3 km (214.6 mi) NW

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a statement saying there is no tsunami expected; however some areas may have experienced shaking.

The quake was widely felt across Hawai‘i Island with 31 felt reports received from the Kailua-Kona area, and 28 from Hilo within the first half hour on the USGS “Did You Feel It?” platform. There were felt reports received more than 100 miles from the epicenter with people reporting to have felt the tremor as far away as Kula, Kīhei, Makawao, and Wailuku on Maui, according to the USGS.

According to HVO Scientist-in-Charge, Ken Hon, the earthquake had no observable impact on the ongoing eruption at Kīlauea’s summit at the time of an Information Statement released about an hour after the quake.

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“This earthquake is part of the ongoing seismic swarm under the Pāhala area, which started in August 2019. This earthquake has been the largest to date in the current swarm and was widely felt across the Island of Hawai‘i, and as far away as Maui, Oʻahu, and Kauaʻi. 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 ADVISORY/YELLOW for Kīlauea and Mauna Loa at this time,” said Hon.  

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The US Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports that earthquakes in this swarm occur beneath Kīlauea’s lower Southwest Rift Zone, beneath the town of Pāhala and in an area extending about 6 miles offshore, mostly at depths of 15-25 miles. “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,” according to the HVO.

*This post will be updated as further information becomes available.

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