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A plume rising from a crater caused by Kilauea. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano continues to erupt, prompting mass evacuations in the southeastern part of the Big Island.

Threat level: The situation is highly dynamic, as lava continues to flow to the surface and the lava lake in the center of the crater sinks, which could lead to bigger problems. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the mountain could have an "explosive" eruption as a result of the current draining of the lava lake in the crater.

How it works: If the magma reaches the water table and is then covered by falling rocks, it could lead to an explosive steam explosion. This could hurl huge boulders into the air, and vault ash high into the atmosphere. (It would not be as destructive or violent an eruption as a volcano like Mount St. Helens, however.)

The numbers on Kilauea:

  • 35 years of eruptions: Kilauea has been erupting since 1983, though the recent uptick in activity began on May 3.
  • This one had a 6.9 magnitude earthquake: The current eruption was accompanied by an earthquake on May 4. This was the strongest quake to strike Hawaii since 1975.
  • About 2,000 residents have been forced to evacuate over the last week since lava began flowing out of new fissures in the ground.
  • The eruption caused 24 hours of sustained earthquakes throughout the island, as magma flowed toward the surface.
  • Lava has destroyed 36 structures including 26 homes in the area since May 3.
  • 15 volcanic vents: The Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens neighborhoods are under threat from lava oozing to the surface from more than a dozen ruptures in the ground. There are 770 homes in Leilani Estates, per AP.
  • Unknown date and time: The USGS says that an explosive steam eruption could happen with little to no warning, and would expand the danger zone beyond just the lava fissures.

Go deeper: How the volcanic eruption in Hawaii could get worse

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
31 mins ago - Energy & Environment

IEA analysis charts "narrow" pathway to Paris climate goal

Photovoltaic solar panels at the power plant in La Colle des Mees, Alpes de Haute Provence, southeastern France. Photo: Gerard Julien/AFP via Getty Images

The pathway for transforming global energy systems to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 is "narrow but still achievable" and demands unprecedented acceleration away from fossil fuels, an International Energy Agency report published Tuesday concludes.

Why it matters: It provides detailed analysis and estimates of what's needed for a good shot at limiting temperature rise to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels — the Paris Agreement benchmark for avoiding some of the most damaging effects of climate change.

2 hours ago - World

In photos: Deadly Cyclone Tauktae leaves trail of destruction across India

A police officer helps a public transport driver cross a flooded street due to heavy rain caused by Tropical Cyclone Tauktae in Mumbai, India, on May 17. Photo: Ashish Vaishnav/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Tropical Cyclone Tauktae killed at least 16 people in India after making landfall in Gujarat Monday, packing 100mph winds, and sweeping across Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra, per Reuters.

The big picture: The storm unleashed heavy rains and winds as authorities continued to grapple with surging infection rates and deaths from COVID-19. Over 200,000 people were evacuated from Gujarat, and ports, airports and vaccination centers shut in the state and Mumbai, Reuters reports. Tauktae weakened from a Category 3 storm into a "severe cyclonic storm" Tuesday morning local time.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Yellen wants business to help foot infrastructure bill

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is heading into the belly of the beast Tuesday and asking the business community to support President Biden's $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan during a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Why it matters: By trying to persuade a skeptical and targeted audience, Yellen is signaling the president’s commitment to raising corporate taxes to pay for his plan. Republican senators, critical to a potential bipartisan deal, oppose any corporate tax increase.