Hawaii’s History of Destructive Earthquakes the Focus of Two Talks and The Great Hawaii ShakeOut Earthquake Drill

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.

USGS seismologists Wes Thelen (left) and Paul Okubo (right) working at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

USGS seismologists Wes Thelen (left) and Paul Okubo (right) working at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

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.  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 Hawai‘i 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 Hawai‘i 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 Hawai‘i, caused $200 million in damages on the Islands of Hawai‘i and Maui, as well as an extended power outage on O‘ahu.

Thelen points out that it has been 40 years since a destructive earthquake occurred during business and school hours—the magnitude-6.2 Honomū, Hawai‘i earthquake on April 26, 1973.  Without that experience, conducting drills is even more 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 earthquake drill 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 or call (808) 967-8844.


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