There is no reason for tourists to avoid the Aloha State, but the travel and tourism industry should be aware that anytime between now and the next 50 years, the travel and tourism paradise of Hawaii has a 6-12 percent chance to be hit by a devastating tsunami disrupting its infrastructure and economy.
Hawaii has one of the best tsunami systems in place, however, if a 9+ magnitude earthquake will rock the Aleutian Islands and trigger a mega-tsunami, it could easily reach Hawaii within 4 1/2 hours. A study on this was published Friday in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
Geophysicists at the University of Hawai‘i have identified a possible source region in the Eastern Aleutian (EA) island arc, directly north of Hawai‘i, that has the potential for a very large magnitude 9+ earthquake that could produce a Great Aleutian Tsunami (GAT).
The 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan spurred interest in investigating other regions around the Pacific for potential to generate large tsunamis beyond the historical record. The intent of this research was to investigate and assess the extent of a large tsunami that may impact the State of Hawai‘i that exceeds the historical record of tsunami events in the region. The historical tsunami events affecting Hawai‘i occurred in 1946, 1952, 1957, 1960, 1964 and 2011, with other statewide warnings from 2010-2013.
Based on geophysical research and subsequent computer modeling of inundation, new tsunami inundation maps have been produced to indicate the maximum extent of the GAT inundation. The GAT inundation maps have been used to determine a new Extended Tsunami Evacuation Zone (XTEZ). The XTEZ will serve as a second evacuation zone for only a GAT scenario, all other tsunami events will continue to use the existing updated 2010 tsunami evacuation maps.