Early on the morning of October 15, 2006, two moderate earthquakes—the largest in decades—struck the Island of Hawai‘i. The first of these, which occurred at 7:07 a.m., HST (1707 UTC), was a magnitude (M) 6.7 earthquake, centered beneath Kīholo Bay on the northwestern coast of the island (19.878°N, 155.935°W), at a depth of 39 km. The second earthquake, which struck 6 minutes, 24 seconds later, at 7:14 a.m., HST (1714 UTC), was located 28 km to the north-northwest of Kīholo Bay (20.129°N, 155.983°W), centered at a depth of 19 km. This M6.0 earthquake has since been referred to as the Māhukona earthquake. Losses from the combined effects of these earthquakes are estimated to be $200 million—the most costly events, by far, in Hawai‘i’s earthquake history.
Although the vast majority of earthquakes in the State of Hawaii are closely related to the active volcanism associated with the southeastern part of the Island of Hawai‘i, the October 2006 Kīholo Bay and Māhukona earthquakes clearly suggest the devastating potential of deeper lithospheric earthquakes. Large earthquakes thought to be nearly M7 have struck near the islands of Lāna‘i (1871) and Maui (1938). It is thought that these, like the 2006 earthquakes, were deep lithospheric flexure earthquakes (Wyss and Koyanagi, 1992; Klein and others, 2001). Thus, it is important to recognize the potential seismic hazard posed by such earthquakes beneath the older Hawaiian Islands. The data and observations afforded by the 2006 earthquakes promise to improve probabilistic seismic hazards modeling in Hawai‘i. The effects of the October 15, 2006, Kīholo Bay-Māhukona earthquakes are shown in images taken from the coastal route along the northern half of the Island of Hawai‘i, where damage was the most concentrated. The direction of presentation is counter-clockwise, from Pa‘auilo on the eastern or windward (Hāmākua) side to Kealakekua Bay on the western or leeward (Kona) side. A list of sites, their locations, coordinates, and distance from the epicenter at Kīholo Bay are given in table 1. A Google Earth map (fig. 7) and a topographic map (fig. 8) pinpoint the 36 sites where damage was documented and digital images were compiled for this collection.