Earthquake Hazards Mitigation

House destroyed in June 25, 1989 earthquake in Kalapana. (Photograph by J.D. Griggs, USGS) Here on the Big Island, we feel small earthquakes on a regular basis, and magma movement underground that precedes eruptive activity produces low-level tremor.

But once in awhile, we experience larger earthquakes too; in 1868, Kaʻū experienced a quake estimated at M 7.9 that knocked down every wall and building in the district, and took the lives of 81 people. These large earthquakes originate deep within or below the island, in areas where the rock itself is structurally weak.

Compared with other natural hazards, earthquakes are unique, because there is no warning. For all other natural disasters, you have a few minutes to a few days of advance notice that the tsunami, lava flow, or hurricane is on its way. But there is no warning for earthquakes. They can happen at any time. That means you have to be prepared at all times, because you never know when the next one is coming.

Year Area/Location Magnitude
1951 Kona 6.9
1952 Kona 6.0
1975 Kīlauea 7.2
1983 Kaʻōiki 6.6
1999 Pāhala 5.6
2006 Kīholo Bay 6.7
2006 Mahukona 6.0
Damaging earthquakes from the past few decades.


You can’t stop an earthquake. But you can lessen the effects of that earthquake--thus protecting your home, your life, and your family. Don’t make the mistake of thinking, “Well, there's nothing I can do anyhow; if it comes, it comes.” You can make your house safer…and after all, isn’t your family worth it?

There are five things you can do right now, this weekend, to mitigate the effects of earthquakes. Don’t put them off. Do them now.

  1. Securing bookshelves
  2. Emergency survival kits
  3. Securing water heater
  4. Protecting your home
  5. Family preparedness

Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense Active Alerts

Visit the Civil Defense website for up-to-date information.