A magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck the world’s largest active volcano on Friday — Mauna Loa on Hawaii’s Big Island — knocked items off shelves and knocked out power in a nearby town but did not immediately prompt reports of severe damage, the.S. Confirmed by the Geological Survey.
The earthquake, which did not cause a tsunami and which the USGS initially reported as magnitude 6.3, was centered on the southern flank of Mauna Loa at a depth of 23 miles, 1.3 miles southwest of Pahala.
“It shook us a lot where it was rocking a little bit,” said Derek Nelson, the restaurant manager at the Kona Canoe Club in the oceanfront community of Kona, on the island’s west side. “It shook all the windows in the village.”
There was a power outage affecting about 300 customers in Naalehu that appeared to be related to the earthquake, said Darren Pai, a spokesman for the Hawaiian Electric Company.
The quake struck just after 10 a.m. local time, less than two hours before an unrelated earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.6 shook Southern California.
Mauna Loa last erupted in late 2022. It is one of the five volcanoes that make up the Big Island, which is the southernmost of the Hawaiian archipelago.
Earthquakes can occur in Hawaii for a variety of reasons, including magma moving beneath the surface. In the case of Friday, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said that the possible cause is the weight of the Hawaiian Islands bending and stressing the Earth’s crust and the upper mantle.
That was the cause of the magnitude 6.9 earthquake that struck Kiholo Bay on the northwest coast of the Big Island in 2006. The quake damaged roads and buildings and knocked out power as far away as Honolulu, on the island of Oahu. about 200 miles (322 kilometers) north.
Helen Janiszewski, an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Department of Earth Sciences, said the Hawaiian Islands are located on the Pacific oceanic tectonic plate and have some of the largest volcanoes in the world.
“So there’s a huge amount of rock mass associated with the islands and because of that, it’s actually enough to slightly shift the Pacific oceanic plate under the islands,” he said. “And that force causes earthquakes sometimes.”
This type of earthquake tends to occur several tens of kilometers below the Earth’s surface in the mantle, Janiszewski said. Earthquakes caused by magma movement tend to strike at shallower depths.
The observatory said Friday’s earthquake did not affect Mauna Loa or the neighboring volcano, Kilauea.
There were no immediate reports of damage to the telescopes at the summit of Mauna Kea, another nearby volcano that has some of the world’s most advanced observatories for studying the night sky.
Jessica Ferracane, a spokeswoman for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, said there was no apparent damage to its roads or visitor centers. Earthquakes are unusual, he said, but this one was “much worse” than usual.
The Hawaiian Islands were formed by a series of volcanic eruptions over millions of years. Most earthquakes in Hawaii occur on and around the Big Island. About once every 1.5 years, there is an earthquake in the state of magnitude 5 or greater, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
The Big Island is mostly rural and hosts cattle ranches, coffee farms and resort hotels. But it also has several smaller cities, including the county seat of Hilo, population 45,000.
Friday’s earthquake was felt in Honolulu. Big Island Mayor Mitch Roth was at a cardiologist’s appointment there and at first thought he was experiencing side effects from a procedure: “All of a sudden I felt dizzy.”
He said he immediately called his emergency management officials when he realized it was an earthquake, and that he was on his way to the Honolulu airport to try to catch an early flight back.
Grace Tabios, the owner of the Will and Grace Filipino Variety Store in Naalehu, said her husband who was working at their coffee farm in Pahala fell due to the shaking. In the store, jars of mayonnaise and medicine from the Philippines fell off the shelves.
“Some things fell but were not destroyed,” said Tabios.
Associated Press writers Mark Thiessen in Anchorage and Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska, contributed to this report.
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