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Major Earthquake Rattles Hawaii, Triggering More Volcanic Eruptions

A day after Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted, sending magma bubbling up through cracks in the earth and forcing hundreds of people to flee, the US Geological Survey on Friday recorded a 6.9 magnitude earthquake that was centered in nearly the exact same location as a deadly 1975 quake that caused the deaths of two people, according to Agence France-Presse.

The quake triggered more eruptions by opening up five magma vents in the area, CNN reported. A separate, smaller 5.4 magnitude quake was recorded earlier in the day, as well as a swarm of smaller aftershocks. USGS said it fears the quakes could trigger more eruptions.

USGS said the quake hit at 12:32 pm local time and was centered on the south flank of the Kilauea volcano, which first erupted on Thursday after a series of tremors. In some places, lava could be seen bubbling up through cracks in the street in a tony housing developments known as Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens.


Authorities told AFP to expect more seismic activity.

“Activity continues,” he said, “Nothing is slowing down,” said County of Hawaii Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno.

Roughly 1,700 people live in the area, which is also home to 770 structures. More than 10,000 people live in the broader area that could potentially be impacted by the quakes and eruptions. No injuries have been reported, but several homes were damaged or destroyed.


Drone footage showed the lava gushing up from the ground and traveling through a forest nearby.

The Hawaii Fire Department urged any lingering residents to evacuate.


Officials urged any remaining residents to evacuate and warned of extremely high levels of toxic fumes.

“Hawaii Fire Department reports extremely dangerous air quality conditions due to high levels of sulfur dioxide gas in the evacuation area,” the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said.

“Elderly, young and people with respiratory issues need to comply with the mandatory evacuation order and leave the area,” said a statement from the mayor’s office.

But it’s not as if these eruptions were a surprise.

One area resident who spoke with AFP said she was actually relieved that the earthquake happened.

Big Island resident Janice Wei, who moved to Hawaii from California – known for its own high earthquake risk – said the eruption was almost a “relief.”

“We’ve been waiting for big movement from the crater, after so many small earthquakes,” she told AFP.

“Hawaiians and local people have lived here forever,” she said. “You know what’s going on; we have warning systems.

“Everybody should be prepared.”

One geologist told AFP that she and her team had since Monday been following an “intrusion of magma” that was triggered by the collapse of a volcanic crater vent known as Puu Oo.

Geologist Janet Babb of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory told AFP that scientists had been following an “intrusion of magma” down the rift zone since Monday afternoon in anticipation of a possible eruption.

Though the cracks from which lava was emitting had gone dormant, she emphasized that “the overall concern and the overall event has not ended.”

US Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was mobilizing resources, as well as monitoring for forest fires, power outages and water supply issues.

Hawaii Island, or the Big Island, is the largest of the eight main islands that comprise the Pacific US state, an archipelago that includes hundreds of smaller volcanic islands.

As magma beneath Kilauea continues to build, USGS reminded area residents to stay vigilant. And we imagine that anybody who has seen the drone footage of the eruption should be ready to do just that:

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