Feasibility Study of Earthquake Early Warning in Hawai`i For the Mauna Kea Thirty Meter Telescope

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Paul Okubo1, Alicia J Hotovec-Ellis2, Weston A Thelen1, Paul Bodin2 and John Emilio Vidale2, (1)Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Hawaii National Park, HI, United States, (2)University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States
Earthquakes, including large damaging events, are as central to the geologic evolution of the Island of Hawai`i as its more famous volcanic eruptions and lava flows. Increasing and expanding development of facilities and infrastructure on the island continues to increase exposure and risk associated with strong ground shaking resulting from future large local earthquakes. Damaging earthquakes over the last fifty years have shaken the most heavily developed areas and critical infrastructure of the island to levels corresponding to at least Modified Mercalli Intensity VII. Hawai`i’s most recent damaging earthquakes, the M6.7 Kiholo Bay and M6.0 Mahukona earthquakes, struck within seven minutes of one another off of the northwest coast of the island in October 2006. These earthquakes resulted in damage at all thirteen of the telescopes near the summit of Mauna Kea that led to gaps in telescope operations ranging from days up to four months.

With the experiences of 2006 and Hawai`i’s history of damaging earthquakes, we have begun a study to explore the feasibility of implementing earthquake early warning systems to provide advanced warnings to the Thirty Meter Telescope of imminent strong ground shaking from future local earthquakes. One of the major challenges for earthquake early warning in Hawai`i is the variety of earthquake sources, from shallow crustal faults to deeper mantle sources, including the basal decollement separating the volcanic pile from the ancient oceanic crust. Infrastructure on the Island of Hawai`i may only be tens of kilometers from these sources, allowing warning times of only 20 s or less. We assess the capability of the current seismic network to produce alerts for major historic earthquakes, and we will provide recommendations for upgrades to improve performance.