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6.2 magnitude earthquake strikes south of Big Isle; no tsunami threat

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The National Weather Service in Honolulu says no tsunami threat has resulted from a 6.2 magnitude earthquake that struck south of Hawaii island today.

Strong shaking was recorded throughout Hawaii island and across most of the main islands, according to the U.S. Geologic Survey. Residents throughout Oahu reported feeling the tremor, and over 1,300 reports of shaking came into the USGS “Did you feel it?” reporting system within one hour of the earthquake.

The initial quake was followed by a magnitude 4.3 temblor in the same area and at least five other aftershocks 2.5 or greater.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the first earthquake struck at 11:49 a.m. today off the Kau coast of the Big Island. It was centered 22 miles deep, and about 17 miles south-southeast of Naalehu and 64 miles south-southeast of Kailua-Kona, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The USGS initially put the quake’s magnitude at 6.1, but later raised it to 6.2.

Ken Hon, scientist-in-charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said the earthquake is not related to the ongoing eruption of Kilauea volcano.

Webcams and other data streams indicate no impact on the eruption except for a few minor rockfalls reported within Halemaumau crater, he said.

Judging by how deep the epicenter is, Hon said, the quake is likely related to the bending of the oceanic plate from the weight of the Hawaiian island chain, a common source for earthquakes in this area. It also helps to explain why it was felt so far and wide, he said.

The largest aftershock occurred about three miles north of the magnitude-6.2 earthquake at a depth of 22 miles. Other aftershocks are possible, officials said.

The last magnitude 6.0 or higher earthquake to strike Hawaii was the 6.9 quake on May 4, 2018, which heralded the initial phases of the destructive three month-long East Rift Zone eruption.

While Hawaii County Civil Defense this afternoon said it received no reports of damage, the intensity of the recorded shaking could have resulted in “very slight damage to buildings or (poorly constructed) structures,” according to the USGS.

The USGS’s “Did you feel it?” self-reported online survey recorded hundreds of immediate reports from the Big Island, Maui and Oahu.

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