5.3-magnitude earthquake rattles Hawaii Island; no tsunami threat

Courtesy: Hawaii Volcano Observatory

A 5.3-magnitude earthquake rattled Hawaii Island Thursday morning.

It was centered in the vicinity of the south flank of Kilauea Volcano and was reported at 7:01 a.m.

The Hawaii Volcano Observatory says at least 15 aftershocks followed.

“Earthquakes like this happen every several years. It’s been a while since we’ve had one quite this large, but it’s not too unusual,” said Brian Shiro, Hawaii Volcano Observatory. “We do get frequent earthquakes in that area due to the southward motion of Kiluaea volcano as it moves under its own weight.”

Kilauea’s south flank has been the site of 29 earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater during the past 25 years. Most are caused by abrupt motion of the area, which moves to the southeast over the oceanic crust as a result of magma being injected into the East Rift Zone and long term settling of the volcano.

The location and depth for Thursday’s earthquake are consistent with slip along or above this south flank fault.

According to HVO scientist-in-charge Christina Neal, the earthquake had no apparent effect on Kilauea Volcano’s ongoing eruptions.

“HVO monitoring networks have not detected any significant changes in activity at the summit or along the rift zones of Kilauea or at other Hawaiian volcanoes resulting from the earthquake,” Neal said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center reports no tsunami threat to the islands. According to civil defense, the earthquake was not large enough to generate a tsunami.

As in all earthquakes, be aware of the possibility of aftershocks. If the earthquake was strongly felt in your area, precautionary checks should be made for any damages, especially to utility connections of gas, water, and power.

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