Moderate 5.2 Earthquake Hits Hawaii

Nothing gets me to post fast than a natural disaster. So this afternoon while scrolling through news sources and social media, lo and behold… I read that there was a 5.2 earthquake that hit the Big Island of Hawaii today. The temblor was located offshore just northeast of the Waipio Valley area. People from across the island and elsewhere in the state reported feeling the earthquake.

While I did not feel any shaking in my area of Honolulu, others reported to have felt light shaking.

Here is the official release from the USGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory regarding today’s earthquake.


USGS HVO Information Statement — Magnitude-5.2 earthquake north of Waipiʻo Valley, Island of Hawai‘i

Release Date: 

Earthquakes on Hawaii Island 7-5-2021A magnitude-5.2 earthquake located to the north of the Island of Hawai‘i, was recorded by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) on July 5, at 1:43 p.m. HST.

The earthquake was centered less than 5 km (3 miles) north and offshore of Waipiʻo Valley, at a depth of 27 km (17 miles) below sea level. A map showing its location is posted on the HVO website at More details are available at the National Earthquake Information Center website at

Strong shaking, with a maximum intensity of V on the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale, has been reported across the districts of Kohala. At that intensity, significant damage to buildings or structures is not expected. The USGS “Did You Feel It?” service ( received 1100 felt reports within the first hour of the earthquake. Felt reports have been reported as far away as Kaua‘i.

According to HVO Scientist-in-Charge, Ken Hon, the earthquake had no observable impact on Kīlauea or Mauna Loa volcanoes. “This earthquake is related to stress from the weight of the island on the underlying ocean crust and mantle. These earthquakes are relatively common and not directly related to volcanic processes. Please be aware that aftershocks are possible and may be felt. HVO continues to monitor Hawaiian volcanoes for any changes. The Alert Levels / Color Codes remain at ADVISORY/YELLOW for Kīlauea and Mauna Loa at this time.”

The largest previous earthquake in the area was a magnitude-4.2 that occurred on October 30, 2010 and was located 7 km (4 miles) east of Kukuihaele at a depth of 33 km (21 miles).

For information on recent earthquakes in Hawaii and volcano updates, visit the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website at


Maps reposted from USGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory

5.2 EQ 7-5-21

COMMENT: An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.2 is what I would consider a “big”, even though it is officially classified as moderate. Surely no tsunami was reported and news reports of any damage seem to be non-existent so far. I’ve been in a couple of big quakes in the past, all in Hawaii.

  • 2018 – 6.9 Honolulu (EQ was centered in Volcano; felt very slight shaking in Honolulu)
  • 2006 – 6.7 Honolulu (EQ was centered near Kiholo on South Kohala coast of the Big Island – Shaking was very strong in Honolulu)
  • 1983 – 6.7 Laie (EQ centered on Hawaii island, not felt where I was)
  • 1975 – 7.4 Honokaa HI (EQ centered East Rift Zone, Volcano Hawaii island. Severe damage some areas, tsunami, 2 deaths)
  • 1973 – 6.1 Honokaa HI (EQ centered Honomu, Hamakua Coast Hawaii island. Severe damage Hawaii island)

EQ Scale

The Big Island Thieves Facebook group have a lot of personal reports regarding today’s earthquake.

Shaking in the Honokaa area was reported to be “long and rolling”.




Melvin Ah Ching is a photographer, consultant, blogger, desktop publisher, and computer enthusiast living and working in Hawaii. The Hawaii Files have been online since 2006.