HONOLULU (KHON2) — Post-apocalyptic stories are hugely popular in TV, movies and literature these days. Everything that humans can imagine occurring has been covered in these entertaining pieces of fiction.

But, for many, the notion of a post-apocalyptic world sends them into planning mode. ‘Preppers’ and ‘Enders’ spend their time educating themselves on how to survive in a world without power and conveniences and stockpile what they can.

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Then, there is the 12th anniversary (March 11) of the tsunami that ravaged the Tōhoku region (northeastern Honshu) of Japan. The earthquake sent one of the most devastating tsunamis in modern history to the shores of Japan.

In this geological event, the Fukushima nuclear power plant was damaged, and Japan is still working out how to deal with all the nuclear contaminated water to this day.

In recent years, Hawai’i has experienced eruptions of Mauna Loa and Kīlauea with Mauna Kea rumbling in the background. These events were small and drew huge numbers of tourists to see Pele in action.

So, KHON2 began to wonder what would happen to Hawaiʻi if Alaska’s Mount Katmai decided to have a massive eruption.

KHON2 set out to discover what would happen to us here in paradise if a tsunami was triggered from our far northern neighbor.

We reached out to the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa to find out what their vulcanologists and atmospheric oceanographers might know. This proved to be a futile avenue as none of the professors contacted were experts in this area.

KHON2 moved on to the U.S. Geological Survey and Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency.

While USGS did not return our calls, HIEMA did.

Fortunately, there was someone who was able to have a discussion on this with us.

Well, what did the experts have to say (off the record) about a scenario in which Mount Katmai erupts sending a tsunami to the south?

Not much, as it turns out.

According to the experts, the Aleutian Basin is between Alaska’s volcanoes and Hawaiʻi. This basin would stop a tsunami from traveling this far south. They said that there may be some waves that hit the eastern exposed shores but that those waves would not cause a cataclysmic event for Hawaiʻi.

  • A photo shows an aerial view of Mount Katmai in Alaska, U.S. (Photo/National Park Service)
  • A photo shows a view of Mount Katmai in Alaska, U.S. (Photo/National Park Service)
  • A photo shows a map of Alaska with Mount Katmai marked with red. (Photo/National Park Service)
  • A photo shows the ocean floor around Alaska and the Aleutian Trench/Basin. (Photo/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

But, what about the ash and particulates, you may ask?

Again, not much would happen. The experts pointed out that Hawaiʻi is pretty remote. The ash and particulates may make their way to Hawaiʻi, but they would be in small amounts since, once again, Hawaiʻi is fairly isolated.

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So, that’s it. A tsunami coming from Alaska would probably not have any impact on Hawaiʻi’s shores; and we probably would not have to deal with the same amount of ash and particulates that places on the mainland would have.