Could the eruption on the Big Island trigger a localized tsunami? It did

PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is getting a number of calls from residents worried that seismic activity and a growing eruption on Hawaii Island could trigger a localized tsunami.

So, could it?

The answer is a little complicated but put simply — maybe, if the shaking is strong enough.

In fact, Friday's 6.9 magnitude earthquake did lead to some minor tsunami waves on Hawaii Island, scientists say.

Initially, there was confusion over whether the strong quake triggered any changes in the ocean at all.

At first, scientists said there was no tsunami activity. But they later confirmed that a small, non-destructive tsunami was generated.

"It did generate a very small tsunami around the coast of the Big Island, and we're even seeing very small sea level fluctuations, less than a foot in amplitude," said Dr. Charles McCreery, director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. "But it's enough to let us know that the earthquake did cause the ocean to move and it did generate a small tsunami."

Photos and video sent to Hawaii News Now showed water receding in some coastal areas along the Big Island.

The episode is spurring officials to urge residents to remain vigilant.

Hawaii Island has seen hundreds of small earthquakes in recent days, but has also been rocked by several quakes topping 5.0 in magnitude.

To check for active Hawaii alerts from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, click here.

This story will be updated.

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