Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
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HVO monitors more than volcanoes

In addition to monitoring Hawaiʻi's volcanic activity, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory also monitors statewide seismic activity. Of the thousands earthquakes that occur in Hawaiʻi every year, most are too small to feel. But, a few are large enough to cause damage. Below are excerpts from "The Story of HVO" describing some of Hawaiʻi's most damaging earthquakes during the past 100 years.

USGS Photo: Kalāhikiola Congregational Church 2006 Kīholo Bay and Māhukona earthquakes—Two earthquakes struck the northwest coast of the island of Hawaiʻi on October 15, 2006: a magnitude-6.7 quake centered in Kīholo Bay, and a magnitude-6.0 quake offshore of Māhukona. They were felt throughout the State of Hawaiʻi, but the greatest damage occurred in the North Kona and Kohala Districts of the Island of Hawaiʻi. Lengthy power outages also occurred as far away as Oʻahu (USGS Photo: Kalāhikiola Congregational Church)
1989 Kalapana earthquake—A magnitude-6.1 earthquake struck the southeast coast of the island of Hawaiʻi on June 25, 1989. It was felt on the islands of Hawaiʻi, Maui, and Oʻahu, but damage to residential property was greatest in the Island of Hawaiʻi's Puna District, where several homes collapsed and other structures suffered significant damage. (USGS photo: Kalapana house)
USGS photo: Kalapana house

1983 Kaʻōiki earthquake—On November 16, 1983, a magnitude-6.6 earthquake struck along the Kaʻōiki fault, a zone of high seismicity beneath the southeast flank of Mauna Loa. Intense shaking caused sections of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park's Crater Rim Drive to fall into the caldera. Extensive structural damage also occurred in Hilo.

USGS photo: Chain of Craters Road 1975 Kalapana earthquake—Early on November 29, 1975, residents of the island of Hawaiʻi were jarred awake by a magnitude-7.7 earthquake—the largest event since the devastating 1868 quake (estimated M-7.9). The 1975 earthquake, located west of Kalapana, caused extensive ground cracking and road damage in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, and was closely followed by a deadly tsunami. (USGS photo: Chain of Craters Road)

1973 Honomū earthquake—On April 26, 1973, a magnitude-6.2 earthquake offshore of the Island of Hawaiʻi, about 15 miles northeast of Hilo, injured 11 people and caused extensive property damage. The main quake was followed by about 300 aftershocks.

1951 Kona earthquake—On August 21, 1951, a magnitude-6.9 earthquake struck near Nāpōʻopoʻo on Hawaiʻi Island's west coast. The earthquake was felt as far away as Honolulu, but property damage was most severe in the central Kona district of Hawaiʻi Island, where buildings, water tanks, stone walls, and roads were damaged, some beyond repair. (USGS photo: Hōnaunau School water tank)
USGS photo:  Hōnaunau School water tank
USGS Photo:  Fearing that their homes would collapse, ranch people camped at the ridge of Puʻu Anahulu in October 1929 1929 Hualālai earthquake—In 1929, more than 6,200 earthquakes rattled the area around Hualālai Volcano from mid-September through November. Two large earthquakes (each about magnitude-6.5) destroyed houses, water tanks, stone fences, and roadways. (USGS Photo: Fearing that their homes would collapse, ranch people camped at the ridge of Puʻu Anahulu in October 1929.)
For more earthquake information, please read "Earthquakes in Hawaiʻi" a USGS Fact Sheet.


More Volcano Information from HVO and Beyond

Earthquake seismogramReport a felt earthquake to HVO using this form.
More USGS Volcano Web sites

Volcano WatchCurrent issue of Volcano Watch essay, written weekly by USGS scientists.
National Park ServiceHawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, home to HVO. Find visitor information and resources here. Graphic: Kids DoorVolcanoes for kids, from the Volcano World website.
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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Menlo Park, California, USA
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Last modification: 9 July 2013 (pnf)