A major hurricane is cutting a path towards an active Hawaiian volcano where months of non-stop eruptions have already caused thousands to flee their homes.
Scientists speculated that low-atmospheric pressure from Hurricane Hector could re-start major eruptions at the Kilauea Volcano, if it maintains its course over the southern edge of Hawaii’s Big Island.
However, they nonetheless said it was incredibly hard to predict the outcome from such an unprecedented clash of natural forces.
The US National Hurricane Center said Hector is on course to brush past the south of the island next week. It is already a Category 3 hurricane capable of sustaining 120mph winds and likely to cause major damage in built-up areas.
Its current trajectory puts it on collision course with the volcano which is in the midst of a three-month-long eruption that has seen lava vents open under homes on its eastern flank while its summit crater collapses.
Eruptions began in early May and have covered 13.4 square miles of the island’s surface, destroying more than 700 homes and displacing thousands of residents.
The current Kilauea lava flow, emanating from just one of about two dozen volcanic fissures that opened in the ground, has been going on for 93 days straight, marking the longest nonstop eruption on record from Kilauea’s lower East Rift zone.
That surpassed eruptions from the lower zone of several weeks and 88 days recorded in 1840 and 1955, respectively, according to Janet Babb, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
But an eruption from another vent on Kilauea’s middle East Rift Zone continued with little interruption for 35 years.
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Additional reporting by agencies