March 3, 2024
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Magnitude 5.7 Earthquake Shakes Mauna Loa, Hawaii, No Tsunami Expected

On Friday, a magnitude 5.7 earthquake, initially reported as magnitude 6.3, jolted the Big Island of Hawaii, striking the world’s largest active volcano, Mauna Loa. The quake, centered on Mauna Loa’s southern flank at a depth of 23 miles (37 kilometers) and located 1.3 miles (2 kilometers) southwest of Pahala, caused items to topple off shelves in nearby towns. Despite the intense shaking, no significant damage was immediately reported, and authorities confirmed that no tsunami was expected.

Magnitude 5.7 earthquake hits Mauna Loa, Hawaii.

Derek Nelson, the manager of Kona Canoe Club restaurant in Kona, described the shaking as unsettling, saying, “It shook us bad to where it wobbled some knees a little bit… It shook all the windows in the village.”

No tsunami expected.

Mauna Loa, which last erupted in late 2022, is one of the five volcanoes comprising the Big Island, situated in the southernmost region of the Hawaiian archipelago.

Occurred 1.3 miles southwest of Pahala.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory attributed the earthquake to the weight of the Hawaiian Islands on the Earth’s surface, a phenomenon that sporadically triggers such seismic events due to the islands’ volcanic origins spanning millions of years. Notably, the observatory assured that neither Mauna Loa nor its neighboring Kilauea volcano were impacted by the quake, and its intensity was deemed unlikely to cause structural damage to buildings or infrastructure.

Minimal damage reported.

The majority of earthquakes in Hawaii occur on and around the Big Island, with an average frequency of approximately one every 1.5 years, registering at magnitude 5 or greater, as reported by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Shook items off shelves in nearby towns.

While the Big Island is predominantly rural, encompassing cattle ranches, coffee farms, and resort hotels, it also includes several small cities, notably Hilo, the county seat, with a population of approximately 45,000.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory attributes quake to islands’ weight.

Though the earthquake’s effects were felt as far as Honolulu on the island of Oahu, approximately 200 miles (322 kilometers) north of the Big Island, there were no immediate reports of significant damage.

Big Island Mayor Mitch Roth, initially disoriented during the quake, quickly realized the situation and engaged emergency management officials. He altered his plans to return from Honolulu, opting for an earlier flight back to the affected area.

Not expected to impact Mauna Loa or Kilauea volcanoes.

While some minor items fell off shelves at local stores like Will and Grace Filipino Variety Store in Naalehu, no major damage was reported. Grace Tabios, the store owner, recounted, “Some things fell down but didn’t break,” adding that despite the shaking, their altar to Buddha and Santo Niño remained intact.

Majority of Hawaii earthquakes occur on Big Island.

Julia Neal, owner of Pahala Plantation Cottages, described the forceful shaking, noting that a mirror and brass lamp fell. “We have a lot of the old wooden plantation homes and so they were rattling pretty loudly,” she remarked.

Contributions to this report were made by Associated Press writers Mark Thiessen in Anchorage and Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska.

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