Hawaii's Earthquake Due to Volcanic Stress

As volcanos grow and spread, pressure builds up and gets released in the form of quakes.

Hawaii's Big Island is rattled by thousands of minor earthquakes a year, mainly from volcanic eruptions. But the strongest and most destructive types — like Sunday's magnitude-6.7 that caused blackouts and landslides — are rare and are caused not by eruptions, but by the buildup of stress deep in the crust as volcanoes grow and spread, experts say.

The Big Island is the youngest in a ring of volcanoes stretching some 3,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean. As new island volcanoes form and old ones are carried away, the process can sometimes release pent-up pressure in the form of quakes. "If you think of it as piling up more and more dirt, it's eventually going to slide," said seismologist Kate Hutton of the California Institute of Technology.


Tags: volcanos | seismologist | volcanic | Stress | Slide | Quakes | Pressure | Landslides | eruptions | DESTRUCTIVE | crust | pacific | Hawaii | Earthquake | California

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