‘The house started shaking violently,’ Naalehu residents and experts describe 6.2 earthquake

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HONOLULU (KHON2) — A 6.2 magnitude earthquake off of Naalehu rocked Hawaii Island Sunday afternoon and was felt as far as Kauai.

Geologists said it was not caused by Kilauea or Mauna Loa, and neither volcano has been affected. Experts said it was the strongest earthquake in Hawaii since 2018, when a 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck the south flank of Kilauea and eruptions began in Leilani Estates.

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Experts said this earthquake was not related to volcanic activity, and these types of quakes happen every decade or so. Hawaii Island residents are no stranger to earthquakes, but some said this one felt different and more intense.

“This was a different earthquake; it was more of a hard jolt, and then it started shaking,” explained Vickie Hanson, who lives in Naalehu. “This one was just bam, boom — just the explosion type. So that’s why we thought the volcano had blown.”

She said her house started shaking violently, and the ground felt like it was jiggling, “like we’ve never experienced something that strong before here in Hawaii,” she continued.

Hanson said the earthquake lasted about 30 seconds. She and her husband went back into the house and saw minor damage.

“All the wine glasses were tipped over in the armoire; one of them had fallen out and broken on the floor. There was a couple of cracks in the drywall, some plates tipped over in my china hutch and pictures are all crooked on the walls. It was scary; I’ve been in a lot of earthquakes in Hawaii, and I’ve never been that scared.”

Vickie Hanson, who lives in Naalehu

Viewers sent KHON2 photos of items that flew off the shelves and onto the floor at Ace Hardware in Naalehu.

Another resident had just installed a security camera inside his home with his son, and the video he sent KHON2 showed the earthquake hit with so much force that it knocked the camera off of the wall.

Maureen Dwyer was sitting on her couch in Kihei, Maui when she looked at the clock around 11:49 a.m.

“All of a sudden I felt the couch rock — that I was sitting on — rocking back and forth like forward and back. I thought ‘boy, this is strange.’ I think that was an earthquake,” Dwyer said.

Geologists said the quake was similar to the 6.7-magnitude earthquake in 2006 off of Kiholo Bay.

“These earthquakes are not generated by the actual magma system within the volcanoes,” explained Kenneth Hon, Scientist in Charge of the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. “They’re not related to eruptions or the magma body or inflation or anything like that.”

He said they are generated from the weight of the volcanoes sitting on the earth’s crust and bending it downward.

“The normal lithosphere kind of looks like this,” he explained, while putting his fingers between one another in opposite hands. “And I put an island in the middle; it bends down, but my fingers will slip against each other. So, they’ll kind of make a little jerk every once in a while like that, and that’s what we’re seeing.”

He said a few minor rockfalls were reported in Halema’uma’u Crater from the quake.

“We don’t expect to see anything changed in the plumbing system of either volcano due to this earthquake,” he continued.

Hon said the quake was deep enough to be felt statewide, and USGS typically gets 50 to 100 reports of people feeling earthquakes within the first hour of one. Within the first hour of the earthquake on Sunday, Oct. 10, he said they received over 1,300 reports.

He also said at the 6.2 magnitude, well-built homes would not sustain damage.

“The last time I heard from Hawaii Civil Defense is that they were getting reports, but mostly things like things falling off walls and shelves and things like that,” Hon added.

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There have been several aftershocks reported, and Hon said Hawaii Island residents can expect to feel some slight aftershocks over the next several days.

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