HVO Press Releases

Press Releases

Current Press Release | Search

Hawaii’s history of destructive earthquakes the focus of two talks

USGS HVO News Release

September 26, 2013

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory seismologists will talk about Hawaii's history of destructive earthquakes in two public presentations on October 1, 2013. Wes Thelen (left) and Paul Okubo (right), will speak in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park and at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, respectively. More information is posted on the HVO website at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov. USGS photo.

HAWAIʻI ISLAND, Hawaii — Hawaii’s long history of destructive earthquakes and actions that residents can take to reduce injury during the next one will be the topics of two presentations on Tuesday, October 1. Both talks are open to the public.

Paul Okubo, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, will speak about "Damaging earthquakes in Hawaii and the Great Hawaii ShakeOut" in the University Classroom Building, Room 100, on the UH–Hilo main campus, 200 W. Kawili Street, in Hilo. A map of the campus is online: http://hilo.hawaii.edu/images/maps/main_campus_map.pdf. This free presentation begins at 7:00 p.m.

Wes Thelen, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory's seismic network manager, will present "Large earthquakes in the Hawaiian Islands: What you need to know" in the Kīlauea Visitor Center auditorium on Crater Rim Drive, in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, at 7:00 p.m. This "After Dark in the Park" presentation is free, but Park entrance fees apply.

Large earthquakes pose an ever-present danger to Hawaii. Since 1868, more than 30 magnitude-6.0 or greater earthquakes have impacted residents throughout the State. The probability that another destructive—magnitude-6.5 or higher—earthquake will strike the Hawaiian Islands in the next 10 years is 50 percent; in the next 20 years, the probability increases to 75 percent.

According to Okubo, while the Island of Hawaiʻi experiences more seismicity than other Hawaiian islands, the exposure to earthquake risk spans the entire State of Hawaii. As a recent example, he notes that the October 2006 magnitude-6.7 and 6.0 earthquakes, located in West Hawaiʻi, caused $200 million in damages on the Islands of Hawaiʻi and Maui, as well as an extended power outage on Oʻahu.

Thelen points out that it has been 40 years since a destructive earthquake occurred during business and school hours—the magnitude-6.2 Honomū, Hawaiʻi, earthquake on April 26, 1973. Without that experience, it's important for all schools and businesses, as well as individuals and families, to practice "Drop! Cover! Hold on!"—actions that are proven to reduce injury in an earthquake—during the Great Hawaii ShakeOut (http://shakeout.org/hawaii/) on October 17.

Both Okubo and Thelen will present an overview of damaging earthquakes in Hawaii, including current theories on why they occur. They will also talk about "The Great Hawaii ShakeOut" and what people can do to protect themselves during Hawaii's next large earthquake.

For more information about these two presentations, visit the HVO website at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov or call (808) 967-8844.

Daily updates about Kīlauea's ongoing eruptions, recent images and videos of summit and East Rift Zone volcanic activity, maps, and data about recent earthquakes in Hawaii are posted on the HVO website at hvo.wr.usgs.gov.

USGS provides science for a changing world. Visit USGS.gov, and follow us on Twitter @USGS and our other social media channels.

Subscribe to our news releases via e-mail, RSS, or Twitter.

Links and contacts within this release are valid at the time of publication.