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Very strong M6.9 earthquake strikes Hawaii, strongest since 1975


A very strong and shallow earthquake registered by the USGS as M6.9 hit Hawaii at 22:32 UTC (12:32 local time) on May 4, 2018. The agency is reporting a depth of 5 km (3.1 miles). M5.4 earthquake occurred in the same region just a few hours before M6.9, as well as multiple M4+ earthquakes.

This quake is a part of an ongoing earthquake swarm at Kilauea volcano which started erupting on May 4 at Leilani Estates. It is the strongest earthquake in the sequence so far and the strongest to hit Hawaii since 1975.

A small tsunami was generated around the Big Island. Hawaii County Civil Defense said sea fluctuations ranged from 20 cm (8 inches) in Hilo to 40 cm (16 inches) inches at Kapoho.

According to Hawaii News Now, the temblor was centered on the south flank of Kilauea and was felt as far away as Oahu. It triggered several landslides along the Hamakua Coast, including one that closed a lane for several hours. 

About 14 000 customers lost power in Kaumana, Hilo and Puna but power has since been restored.

Today's M6.9 quake was registered 1.5 km (0.9 miles) NNE of Royal Gardens, 16 km (10 miles) SW of Leilani Estates and 24.5 km (15.8 miles) SSW of Hawaiian Paradise Park (population 11 404).

A total of 677 earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 0.7 to M6.9 were registered in this region since 06:11 UTC on April 28:

Earthquakes in Hawaii April 28 - May 5, 2018

Image credit: USGS

The eruption started in the Leilani Estates subdivision in the lower East Rift Zone of Kilauea Volcano shortly before 03:00 UTC on May 4, 2018. Lava was confirmed at the surface in the eastern end of the subdivision. 

Eruption begins on Kīlauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone on May 3, 2018. Image credit: USGS/HVO

At least two structures were significantly damaged and a number of roads have been covered in lava or severely damaged.

At this time, there are 770 structures and 1 700 people in the area under mandatory evacuation, said Cindy McMillan, a spokeswoman for Gov. David Ige.

More information about this ongoing eruption can be found at the following link:

Eruption at Leilani Estates in lower East Rift Zone of Kilauea volcano, Hawaii

Featured image credit: USGS/HVO


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