6.9-Magnitude Earthquake Hits Hawaii's Big Island Following Volcanic Eruption

After the most active volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii erupted, the island was shaken by two major earthquakes on Friday.

The first earthquake was a 5.6 magnitude one at around 11:30 a.m. local time, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. About an hour later, a 6.9 magnitude quake was reported. According to Hawaii News Now, this was the largest temblor in Hawaii since 1975, and led to small tsunami waves and sea fluctuations around the island.

Dr. Charles McCreery, director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, told Hawaii News Now that the tsunami waves were not dangerous to the island, but said it was important for residents to be careful of possible new eruptions from the volcano, Kilauea. There were six more eruptions after the quake.

After the quake, about 14,000 customers in Puna, Hilo and Kuamana briefly lost power.

Kilauea erupted on Thursday, sending clouds of steam and ash into the sky, reports the Washington Post. Authorities issued mandatory evacuations and warned residents to continue staying out of the area while molten rock continued coming up from the ground in Puna's Leilani Estates.

Hawaii News Now reported that at least two homes caught fire in Leilani Estates and shared the dramatic video on Twitter. Residents said the eruptions sounded like "hissing" and a "freight train."

The Hawaii Volcano Observatory said Thursday's eruption created a fissure, which is sending lava as high as 125 feet into the air. Although the fissure stopped erupting, officials said there could still be more lava outbreaks.

"Eruption of lava in the Leilani Estates subdivision in the lower East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano continues. Several additional eruptive fissures or vents - each several hundred yards long - have opened over the past day. No significant lava flows have yet formed. Spatter and lava are accumulating primarily within a few tens of yards of the vent," the HVO said in a Friday afternoon update. "The sixth and most recent fissure is on the eastern edge of the subdivision. Not all fissure vents remain active and no far-traveled lava flows have formed."

Scientists also warn that the eruptions could cause dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide in the air, reports Hawaii News Now. It could be very dangerous for those with allergies and lung conditions like asthma.

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“It’s been handled very well,” Leilani Estates resident Maija Stenback told the Washington Post. “Civil Defense has been saying they can’t predict it, but there’s a good possibility, so they made everybody very aware that this could happen. You know, pack a bag and be ready to leave.”

Photo credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images