Pair of earthquakes rattle Big Island

A pair of earthquakes rocked the Big Island on Friday and led to the closure of the Pahala Post Office’s retail lobby.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported that at 9:07 a.m. Friday, two earthquakes originated from the southern coast of the Big Island about 4.3 miles south of Pahala.


The first quake had an intensity of magnitude 4.6 and an epicenter located about 8 miles underground. Twenty-four seconds after that, a second quake with a magnitude of 5.0 occurred, centered around a point 4.6 miles underground beneath Highway 11 just south of Pahala.

Both quakes could be felt as far north as Waimea. HVO reported that they were felt “to a lesser extent” across the entire state.

The quakes damaged some of the interior light fixtures in the Pahala Post Office’s retail lobby. It will reopen as soon as postal management has determined that the facility is safe for its employees and customers, the USPS said in a press release.

The PO box lobby was not impacted, so mail delivery to the facility’s 600-plus PO box customers will continue without interruption, USPS said.

During the temporary closure, customers in Pahala requiring retail services are asked to visit the Naalehu, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or Volcano post offices.

Julia Neal, Pahala resident and owner of the Ka‘u Calendar, said the quakes caused disruptions throughout the area. A power outage affected part of the town for several hours, and although power was restored, the outage prompted the closure of the Pahala branches of Bank of Hawaii and Longs Pharmacy.

Neal said some local residents checked their homes for damage to water lines, and some businesses reported potential minor damage caused by the quakes.

“I talked to one farmer who said she’s refilling all her water tanks now in case of an eruption” of Mauna Loa, Neal said.

The two quakes — and the several weaker aftershocks felt in their wake — appear to be related to “readjustments” along Mauna Loa’s southeast flank, HVO reported.

Over the past month, heightened seismic activity at Mauna Loa has led to an increase in minor earthquakes detected at the volcano’s summit.

The large quakes on Friday did not originate in the same place as most of those minor quakes, which largely occurred beneath the volcano’s northwest flank. Nonetheless, HVO stated that it is not clear whether Friday’s quakes were directly related to Mauna Loa’s unrest.

HVO maintained Friday that there are no signs of an imminent eruption and added that it will continue to closely monitor the volcano for any changes.

Email Michael Brestovansky at

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