Will Another Big Quake Happen Again Soon?

By Paul Drewes

(KHNL) - While damage from the quake is being discovered, scientists are also discovering clues to these seismic events.

Seimologists know this deep earthquake took place in an unknown fault zone when the sheer weight of the Big Island put stress on the tectonic plate below.

Scientists also know that Hawaii will see more quakes like Sunday's. They just don't know when.

The latest aftershocks triggered fears from Big Island residents already rattled from Sunday's quake.

While the magnitude of the aftershocks appears to be decreasing from the initial aftershocks on Sunday, the potential for sizeable seismic activity still remains.

"This quake could still trigger a magnitude 5 aftershock," said University of Hawaii Seismologist Cecily Wolfe.

Seismologists aren't sure when or even if that would occur.

But they do know even though this quake caused so much damage, people who live on the Big Island were lucky it was so deep.

"This earthquake was 30-40 kilometers from anyone, it would have been a lot more damaging if it was shallower," said Wolfe.

But there is still millions of dollars in damage.

To roads, buildings and homes.

Many of those are damaged but still livable.

But this home overlooking the Hamakua Coast may be certified unsafe after the surrounding ground gave way.

"We saw the land go into the ocean and the trees. It was heartbreaking," said a witness.

Another testament to the strength of this strong quake.

This earthquake is tied for the fifth most powerful in Hawaii, in the past 150 years.

The 7.9 in 1868 is the strongest and its believed to be about as big as quakes can get here in the islands.