No end in sight to Hawaii’s erupting volcano say experts

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Scientists have no idea when Hawaii’s devestating Kilauea volcanic eruption will end.

Lava from the bubbling volcano has now destroyed 35 buildings and forced more than 1,700 residents to evacuate.

Researchers have tracked the event since it began last week but say there is no indication to when the destructive lava flow will come to a halt.

‘We can’t really peer through the ground and see it exactly in all its details and intricacies,’ Bill Chadwick, a volcanologist at NOAA, told NPR.

‘[The eruption] could last days, weeks, years. All that’s possible. It’s hard to say, unfortunately.’

The Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island has been erupting for more than 30 years but bubbled last week when the volcano’s summit rose earlier this month.

In recent years the volcano has mostly released lava in hard-to-reach areas inside a national park or along the island’s coastline.  

Volcanoes build up pressure before releasing it as an eruption that is followed by a pause as pressure increases again.

It is impossible to tell when Hawaii’s eruption will end as there is no way to predict when its cycle of pressure building will stop.

This is partly because scientists are still unsure what started the sudden outpouring of lava.

Scientists suggest it could have been triggered by an increase in magma supply or something that blocked the underground magma system’s release vent.

This meant the lava bubbled underneath the Earth near the crater, building pressure and triggering several earthquakes before it oozed through the resulting cracks.

The latest volcanic event is especially dangerous because it could go on for years, consuming more buildings in its wake, according to one scientist. 

Denison University volcanologist Erik Klemetti told NPR: ‘When a house today might look like it’s perfectly safe, it might get taken out by a lava flow five years from now if the eruption keeps on going.’

Wendy Stovall, a volcanologist at the US Geological Survey, added: ‘As long as there’s magma supplying the system we’re expecting more of the same to happen.’ 

Two new vents opened up on the erupting Hawaii volcano earlier on Wednesday sparking immediate evacuations of the remaining residents in Lanipuna Gardens.

Authorities ordered more than 1,700 residents to leave two communities in the mostly rural district of Puna on Hawaii’s Big Island last Thursday.

But authorities say many people had ignored warnings, forbidding them from returning because of hazardous volcanic gases, and had gone back to their homes.

Now new evacuation orders have been issued after a new vent, spewing lava and deadly gases, opened near the intersection of Leilani Avenue and Kahukai Road, while a second opened Kaupili St. and Leilani Avenue. 

The eruption has already claimed 27 homes and a total of 37 structures as lava streams advanced across the island.

Scientists have recorded at least 14 vents since the eruption began last week. 

 

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