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Big Island Magnitude 6.9 Earthquake


Magnitude: 6.9
Location: 16km SW of Leilani Estates, Island of Hawai’i
Date and Time: May 4, 2018 - 12:33PM HST

Synopsis: The Big Island of Hawai’i was shaken by a strong magnitude 6.9 earthquake early in the afternoon of Friday, May 4th. This event was associated with elevated volcanic activity around Kilauea volcano on the southeastern portion of the island. It is the largest earthquake to impact the state since the 1975 magnitude 7.4 Kalapana event, which occurred in the same general area.

The strong earthquake was preceded by several days of increased volcanic and seismic activity in the East Rift Zone of Kilauea. Several earthquakes of magnitude 4.5 or greater occurred in the 24 hours prior to the event with hundreds of smaller quakes. At least ten erupting ground fissures have opened in the Leilani Estates subdivision in the Puna District.

The most severe shaking occurred on the southeastern potion of the island near the earthquake’s epicenter around Volcano National Park. Strong shaking was experienced as far away as Hilo with lighter shaking on the northern and western sides of the island. 

Shake MapShake Map
Click Image for Interactive Map from the USGS

Impact: The most devastating impacts thus far have been associated with the erupting ground fissures in the Leilani Estates subdivision. At least 36 structures have been claimed by the lava with 26 of those being homes. Lava fountains in excess of 330 feet were reported from one of the fissures. The situation remains dynamic with eruptions ending in some locations while new fissures open up each day. Over 1,700 people have been evacuated from the area due to the danger posed by the lava flows and toxic gases. 

There have been no reports of major structural damage due to the shaking from the magnitude 6.9 earthquake. Some minor to moderate damage is likely, though reports are currently sparse due to evacuation orders. Numerous landslides were observed as far away as the Hamakua Coast on the northeastern side of the island. The risk of additional aftershocks and eruptions remains elevated as Kilauea’s increased volcanic activity continues. 

Thermal Map of Leilani Estates Ground FissuresShake Map

Click Image for Latest Maps from USGS