Scientists track spike in Pacific quakes

Scientists track spike in Pacific quakes
Published: Nov. 13, 2012 at 2:02 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 13, 2012 at 5:58 PM HST
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Lisa Kubota
Lisa Kubota
Victor Sardina
Victor Sardina

EWA BEACH (HawaiiNewsNow) - Scientists at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center have issued bulletins on seven major earthquakes in the last three weeks. A magnitude 6.5 temblor in the Gulf of Alaska on Monday morning did not create a tsunami threat, but experts are tracking the spike in activity. Fortunately, powerful quakes in spots like Guatemala haven't sent destructive waves toward Hawaii.

"We have several events that are pretty big major events in last two weeks or so, but when you look at it in the grand scheme of things, it's not really unusual," said geophysicist Victor Sardina of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Sardina said people shouldn't panic because of all the recent rattling.

"They're not just concentrated around one single area. You have events in Central America, one in West Coast, in Myanmar. They are spread around the Pacific which is a huge region," Sardina explained.

It is unclear if any of the quakes are connected. Scientists have seen this type of abrupt surge in the past, according to Sardina.

"People's attention is sort of like heightened about this, but if you look at the historical record there is usually, even within a certain time frame, there is always like some sort of spike in seismic activity," Sardina said.

Hawaii has gone through four tsunami warnings in the last three years. Sardina said the trend in seismic activity is similar to a spike in the 1960's when a few big quakes triggered damaging waves.

"1960 in Chile, 1964 Prince William Sound. So those events generated tsunami that affected Hawaii heavily. So we've seen kind of a spike like that. We've simply been lucky," said Sardina.

Natural disasters can't be prevented, but experts hope after these latest experiences that families will be prepared.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is reviewing its response to the quake off Canada last month. Sardina said based on the information, issuing a warning for Hawaii was the right decision. Scientists are still looking at adjusting models and possibly moving a buoy.

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