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Don't believe the rumors, officials say major tsunami 'extremely unlikely'

HONOLULU (KHON2) - The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency says it wants to set the record straight after hearing about a message being spread about that a large earthquake that could generate a tsunami that would affect other counties.

Civil Defense says this is false and that no such warning has been issued by the agency.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, the potential for a Pacific-wide tsunami that would be generated by the collapse of the south flank into the ocean is extremely unlikely.

"There is no geologic evidence for past catastrophic collapses of Kilauea Volcano that would lead to a major Pacific tsunami, and such an event is extremely unlikely in the future based on monitoring of surface deformation."

Click here for more from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Kilauea Volcano's movement tends to "slump," which is a slower type of movement that is not associated with Pacific-wide tsunamis.

That's not to say a tsunami will not occur.

There was a small, very localized localized tsunami on May 4 from a magnitude-6.9 quake, which also moved the south flank about 1.5 feet toward the ocean. 

Scientists say the earthquake was likely caused by pressure exerted by the magmatic intrusion on the south flank fault, following the pattern of past earthquake activity that has been observed during Kilauea East Rift Zone intrusions.

Local tsunamis were also generated by past large earthquakes, including a magnitude-7.7 quake in 1975 and a roughly magnitude-8.0 earthquake in 1868.

Both of those events resulted in multiple deaths along the south coast of Hawaii island.

However, officials note, that those earthquakes were not associated with significant south flank landsliding.

Geologic history combined with models of the south flank motion suggest the likelihood of a catastrophic failure event is incredibly remote.


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