Could earthquake aftershocks be a concern to Hawaii?

Published On: Apr 03 2014 06:22:00 PM HST

After the major earthquake on Tuesday that caused a tsunami advisory in Hawaii, there have been hundreds of aftershocks in the area; some of them quite strong.

But what leads to these multiple aftershocks and what could it mean for Hawaii?

Click here to watch Cam Tran's report.

The scientists here at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center have been busy – extremely busy. Ever since the 8.2 earthquake off northern Chile on Apr. 1, the same area has seen hundreds of aftershocks.
Some well above 5.0., including a 7.8 Wednesday.

Just in an hour at the PTWC, a dozen earthquakes were seen. Scientists say there are seismometers in the area picking up the activity as well as the fact there's just been more activity in the area.

"Both the number and the size, we've has several up in the 6's and we had a 7.8, was so large it could be another earthquake," said Gerard Fryer, a PTWC geophysicist.

This is an area in the Pacific Ocean where two tectonic plates meet, making it more prone to earthquake activity.

"Part of the energy in the Earth has been released and part of it hasn't, so now there's continuing little adjustments and that's what the aftershocks are," said Fryer.

But the big concern for Hawaii and those in South America, with all these aftershocks could a stronger quake on the way?

"There could be in deed another larger earthquake, but is unlikely," said Fryer.
Unlikely, but it has happened before.

"The largest earthquake in recorded history occurred a 9.5., but the day before that it was an 8.4. There was a very, very large earthquake for which there was a tsunami issued and then the following day there was an even larger earthquake, so we have to keep up our guard," said Fryer.

That 1960 tsunami killed 60 people in Hawaii and wiped out downtown Hilo. That is why Fryer says you should always be ready by knowing your evacuation zone, your route and having a disaster bag ready.

Fryer says with every big earthquake there is a three to four percent chance it would be followed by a larger one.

World's 10 largest earthquakes

Click here to learn what are the 10 largest earthquakes.


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