M4.9 Earthquake Hits Mauna Kea – Is the Tallest Volcano on Earth Waking Up Soon?


A M4.9 earthquake shook Mauna Kea, the tallest volcano on earth, on Big Island, Hawaii on November 11, 2019.

More than 1100 people have already reported having felt the tremor, less than 4 hours later.

M4.9 earthquake hits Mauna Kea on Hawaii's Big Island on November 11 2019
M4.9 earthquake hits Mauna Kea on Hawaii’s Big Island on November 11 2019. Quake map via USGS

Just after a rare M5.1 earthquake hit southern France, a M4.9 quake shook the Big Island of Hawaii on Monday morning at 6:35 a.m. HST.

The epicenter was situated on the east slope of Mauna Kea in the district of Hāmākua at a depth of about 19 miles.

As shown on the USGS HVO map below, the major quake was followed by at least 5 aftershocks.

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M4.9 earthquake and aftershocks of the east slope of Mauna Kea on Hawaii’s Big Island. Map via HVO

No tsunami was generated by the event. But more than 1100 people have already reported feeling shaking across Big Island.

Debris has also been reported on roadways in the Hāmākua district.

Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense says “if the earthquake was strongly felt in your area, precautionary checks should be made for any damages; especially to utility connections of gas, water, and electricity.

The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory issued this media release just before 8 a.m. HST:

The U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) recorded a magnitude-4.9 earthquake on Monday, November 11, just before 6:36 a.m. HST. This magnitude may be refined as HVO seismologists continue to analyze the earthquake.

The earthquake was located 17 km (about 11 mi) southwest of Laupāhoehoe on the Island of Hawai‘i at a depth of 33 km (20 mi).

Light to moderate shaking, with a maximum Intensity of V on the Mercalli Intensity Scale, has been reported around the Island of Hawai‘i, with weak shaking reported from as far away as Oʻahu.

A magnitude-2.6 foreshock occurred in the same area about three minutes prior to the mainshock. Aftershocks have already been recorded; more are likely, and some could be felt.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has stated that there is no tsunami threat from this earthquake. Hawaii County Civil Defense reports that Department of Public Works personnel will be checking roadways in the area for rockfalls. 

Is Mauna Kea Waking Up?

According to a Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense radio message, the USGS HVO reports that the earthquake did not coincide with any changes in the volcanoes on the island.

The depth, location, and recorded seismic waves of the M4.9 earthquake suggest a source due to bending of the oceanic plate from the weight of the volcanoes in the Hawaiian Island chain, a common source for earthquakes in this area.

According to HVO Scientist-in-Charge Tina Neal, “HVO monitoring networks have not detected any significant changes in activity on Kīlauea or Mauna Loa Volcanoes due to the earthquake.

So do you think this M4.9 earthquake is a sign of the imminent eruption of the Mauna Kea volcano on Big Island, Hawaii?

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