Mega-Tsunami From Magnitude 9.0 Earthquake Might Strike Hawaii

Mega Tsunami - Hawaii

A team of researchers at the University of Hawaii have spent five years calculating the risk of a mega-tsunami, created by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake or higher in the Aleutian Islands, hitting Hawaii that would affect more than 300,000 people as well as causing close to $40 billion of damage.

How Likely is it to Happen?

They came to the conclusion that there is a 9 percent (plus/minus 3 percent deviation) chance of this happening within the next 50 years. The chance, although low, means that it can still happen and people should be preparing for it in advance. If a large earthquake were to hit the Aleutian Islands, the mega-tsunami would hit Hawaii in only 4 hours. People would be scrambling to get to higher ground or move further inland.

How do They Know This?

Tsunami Evacuation

Rhett Butler, leader author and geophysicist at the University of Hawaii Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) and co-authors Neil Frazer (SOEST) and William Templeton (Portland State University) created a numerical model based only on fault lengths, plate conversion rate, handling uncertainties in the data with Bayesian techniques.

They used recorded histories and seismic/tsunami evidence related to the 5 largest earthquakes (greater than magnitude 9) since 1900 to validate the model.

Butler said “These five events represent half of the seismic energy that has been released globally since 1900… the events differed in details, but all of them generated great tsunamis that caused enormous destruction”.

They also looked at past tsunamis before recorded history by analyzing the evidence preserved in geological layers in coastal sediments, volcanic tephras, and archeological sites.

So What Now?

If this horrific event does actually happen within the next 50 years, you better make sure you are prepared for it. Plan escape routes, buy an earthquake/emergency kit, know what to do before, during, and after a tsunami.

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  1. Anthony

    Speaking of earthquake and disaster preparedness, they may be strange for some people. Because they think that they will not suffer from the earthquake and refuse to prepare for the disaster. Both your post and your blog are very useful for raising public awareness! I have the knowledge and some experience about natural disaster and promoting disaster preparedness, and I find the information on your blog is accurate and easy for the public to understand.

    You may want to check out This is the organization that I used to learn and work from. You may find useful information on this website.

    1. Andy (Post author)

      Thanks Anthony! I’m glad there are others who are trying to get people to be prepared. You’re right, a lot of people always thing “it will never happen to me” but that’s what makes it so dangerous. They end up not being prepared and when disaster strikes, they’ll be in trouble. Thanks for the link, I’ll definitely check it out as it looks like it has a lot of good preparedness resources. Thanks again!

  2. Nicki

    I really want to go to Maui soon too! Oh no, looks like I better bring a kit with me and know all of the steps to take in the event of a catastrophe!
    Great article Andy and thanks for sharing.
    I look forward to hearing about where else in the world an earthquake might pop up.

    1. Andy (Post author)

      Yeah I was thinking of going to Hawaii next year for vacation as well. Let’s just hope a major earthquake doesn’t strike anytime soon.
      But as long as you know what to do during an earthquake and what to do during a tsunami, you can use that knowledge anywhere in the world to help you be safe.


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