Scientists working on tsunami evaluation - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Scientists working on tsunami evaluation

Gerard Fryer Gerard Fryer

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

EWA BEACH (HawaiiNewsNow) - A strong aftershock set off fears of another tsunami in Chile. Local officials evacuated some coastal cities just in case. The US Geological Survey reports the aftershock was magnitude 6.0. Hawaii's Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a warning, watch or advisory and says there is no threat to Hawaii.

They say an earthquake in South America has to be in the eight magnitude range before it affects Hawaii. Meanwhile, the scientists are working on ways to make the next tsunami event even more accurate and have already held their first post tsunami meeting which included the reasons for the over-warning.

"For a number of reasons we over warned and we're working on trying to avoid that," said Gerard Fryer, PhD., Pacific Tsunami Warning Center Geophysicist.

That includes working on new computer models. The equation they used made assumptions that didn't quite pinpoint the source of the earthquake so that affected their projections. They did test their own in house model which was more accurate but it's still a work in progress.

"So if an earthquake happened tomorrow that was exactly the same as the one on Saturday our performance would be the same. We'd have to do the same thing. But a few months from now once we managed to massage things and incorporate them into our systems then the warnings will be better. That really is the take home message every one of these events the warning system gets better and better," said Fryer.

Better because the next event may not include the whole state, but instead they may only evacuate certain trouble areas like Hilo and Kahului.

"We are getting to the point now where we will be able to say danger only in these bays and nowhere else and that will be much nicer for the general public," said Fryer.

He says it's normal for earthquakes to come in clusters, like what's happening now and there could very well be more big ones soon.

"We must err on the side of caution. We must not miss an event. We have never missed an event. I'm pretty sure we will never miss an event," said Fryer.

Another note, the tsunami is still sloshing around out in the Pacific it's small at only a few inches and not causing any damage but still should be there for the next few days.

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