Historic Earthquakes

Island of Hawaii
1983 November 16 UTC
Magnitude 6.7

This earthquake, the most destructive in Hawaii since a magnitude 7.2 event occurred there in 1975, caused heavy property damage on the island of Hawaii and injured six people. The Small Business Administration reported 35 commercial buildings sustained varying degrees of damage, 317 houses had minor damage, and 39 houses had major damage. Unanchored chimneys fell. Roads, bridges, and other government facilities also were damaged.

At Volcano, many houses and garages were moved off their foundations, causing extensive damage to ceilings and walls. Highways in the area were cracked severely and were closed temporarily. Elevated water tanks were thrown down; water tanks on gravel bases were moved as much as 5 cm, and some had their roofs damaged or knocked off by sloshing water. Three chimneys collapsed. Moderate damage on Hawaii Island also occurred at Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Hilo, Kipapala Ranch, Kaumana, Kilauea Military Camp, and Wood Valley.

Landslides and ground cracking occurred in many areas on southern Hawaii Island. The most severe ground failures were on Crater Rim Drive, a road around Kilauea crater. The road extended near the edge of the crater wall in several places, and a section of the road fell into the crater. In other areas, cracks as much as 1-1.5 meters wide and 3-6 meters deep formed in the road. Also many sections of trails in Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park collapsed into the main caldera of Kilauea Volcano. At South Point and Kealakekua Bay, parts of cliffs fell into the ocean. Felt on Kauai, Lanai, Maui, Molokai, and Oahu.

Abridged from Seismicity of the United States, 1568-1989 (Revised), by Carl W. Stover and Jerry L. Coffman, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1527, United States Government Printing Office, Washington: 1993.