M-4.2 earthquake strikes near Pahala

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory recorded a magnitude-4.2 earthquake near Pahala at 10:03 a.m. on Saturday.

The earthquake was centered about 5 miles northeast of Pahala, at a depth of 20 miles.


Light shaking, with maximum Intensity of IV on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale, was reported across parts of Hawaii Island. At that intensity, significant damage to buildings or structures is not expected. The USGS “Did you feel it?” service received over 150 felt reports within the first hour of the earthquake.

The earthquake had no apparent effect on Kilauea or Mauna Loa volcanoes, according to HVO geophysicist Jefferson Chang.

“This earthquake appears to be part of the seismic swarm under the Pahala area, which has been going on for over a year. Out of over ten thousand earthquakes that were detected in the area, a few have been large enough to be felt. We see no detectable changes in activity at the summits or along the rift zones of Mauna Loa or Kilauea as a result of these earthquakes,” he said.


Earthquakes beneath Kilauea’s lower Southwest Rift Zone are produced mostly at depths of 15 miles to 25 miles, beneath the town of Pahala and extending about six miles offshore. Earthquakes in this region have been observed at least as far back as the 1960s and are posited to be related to deep magma pathways under the island.

For information on recent earthquakes in Hawaii and eruption updates, visit the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/earthquakes/.

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