Hawaii Earthquake: 5.3 Quake Strikes ‘Big Island’ Just Days After One Rattled Taiwan Causing Tsunami Fears [REPORT]

By iScienceTimes Staff on June 5, 2013 9:41 AM EDT

HAwaii earthquake
Map of earthquake epicenter. (Photo: USGS)

A Hawaii earthquake measuring a magnitude 5.3 on the Richter scale struck off the southeast coast of the popular archipelago's Big Island on Tuesday. The Hawaii earthquake was centered approximately 34 miles southeast of the town of Pahala on the Big Island, and the U.S> Geological survey placed its depth at around 25 miles. The 5.3 Hawaii earthquake caused no major damage or serious injuries and did not generate a tsunami, although shockwaves were felt as far away as Maui and Oahu.

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"The earth is very sound down there there's not a lot of cracks, therefore waves travel very efficiently through the material," USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Seismic Network manager, Wes Thele told KHON2.com.

According to the USGS, any Hawaii earthquake requires monitoring because of the islands' volcanic activity. When a Hawaii earthquake occurs, it is often tied to volcanic activity. The USGS describes the relationship in the mission statement for the Advanced National Seismic System that has been installed on the islands:

Earthquakes in Hawaii are closely linked to volcanism. They are an important part of the island-building processes that have shaped the Island of Hawaii and the other Hawaiian Islands. Thousands of earthquakes occur every year beneath the Island of Hawaii.

Eruptions and magma movement within the presently active volcanoes (Kilauea, Mauna Loa and Lo'ihi) are usually accompanied by numerous small earthquakes. They originate in regions of magma storage or along the paths that magma follows as it rises and moves prior to eruption. These are loosely termed volcanic earthquakes.

Many other earthquakes, including the largest ones, occur in areas of structural weakness at the base of Hawai'i's volcanoes or deep within the Earth's crust beneath the island. These are referred to as tectonic earthquakes. In the past 150 years, several strong tectonic earthquakes (magnitude 6 to 8) caused extensive damage to roads, buildings, and homes, triggered local tsunami, and resulted in loss of life. The most destructive earthquake in Hawai'i's history occurred on April 2, 1868, when 81 people lost their lives. With a magnitude of 7.9 and a maximum intensity of XII, this destructive earthquake destroyed more than a hundred homes and generated a 15-m high tsunami along Kilauea's south coast.

Tuesday's Hawaii earthquake comes just days after another significant quake struck in the seismically active Pacific region known as the Ring of Fire. On Sunday, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck Taiwan about 14 miles south southeast of Bull, Taiwan and 27 miles east southeast of Nantou, Taiwan at a depth of 12.4 miles. As with the Hawaii earthquake, no serious injuries or major damage were reported and fears of a tsunami dissipated after the Pacific Tsunami Center issued no warning.

Tsunami fears accompany every Hawaii earthquake after the devastating tsunami struck Indonesia in 2004 and killed more than 150,000 people.

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