Earthquake Update from W. M. Keck Observatory

Kamuela (February 28th, 2007) The Observatory has returned to standard operating procedures after a 6.7-magnitude earthquake struck off the west coast of Hawaii October 15, 2006. The earthquake was the largest to hit Hawaii in 20 years. There were no injuries at W. M. Keck Observatory and no damage to the mirrors or optical systems of the twin Keck telescopes.

During the six-week earthquake recovery process the Observatory modified work schedules and implemented new planning processes in order to return the facility to science operations as quickly as possible. The result was quick return to science, with limited operations taking place as early as Oct. 24th, a mere nine days following the first earthquake.

Both telescopes are now collecting science data, though at temporarily reduced slew speeds and some minor performance restrictions. The Observatory continues to evaluate the performance of both telescopes in comparison to pre-earthquake levels and original specifications.

“We are extremely appreciative and thankful for the tremendous hard work, dedication and professionalism shown over the past several months,” remarked Keck Observatory Director Dr. Taft Armandroff. “We have juggled many parallel activities during the earthquake repair process and have helped our observers collect as much valuable science as possible.
The most important accomplishment is that we have been able to conduct these recovery efforts safely.”

The Hualalai Lecture Theater has been repaired and has been restored to operation.

Sarah Anderson
Electronic Technicians Robert Novak (left) and Gary Anderson (right) repair the Keck II telescope drive and control system. Anderson’s arm is reflected in the oil surface of the hydraulic bearing on which the telescope moves.

Credit: Sarah Anderson
Drew Medeiros (left) Chris Hunt (right) and Jim Bell (bottom) adjust the Keck I dome restraints to return the wheels to proper position.

Credit: Sarah Anderson
The historic Keck II remote operations control room in Kamuela, Hawaii following a 6.7 magnitude earthquake and a series of strong aftershocks.

Credit: Sarah Anderson
Summit crew move the Keck I telescope by hand during recovery efforts.