During the event, explosion clouds reached as high as 5.5 miles. It may also shoot pebbles into the air several miles away, and dust areas up to 20 miles away with ash.
Following the opening of the first lava vent on Thursday, Hawaii Gov. David Ige activated the Hawaii National Guard to support emergency and evacuation efforts, which have so far affected about 1,700 residents.
A brief explosion on Wednesday on a Kilauea crater was the result of falling rocks and not the interaction of lava with the water table, the USGS said.
Lava drained from the collapsed crater underground.
The subdivision was ordered to evacuate when lava began oozing from cracks in the ground last week.
Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said Wednesday that the movement of magma from the summit out toward the Leilani Estates neighborhood, where 14 fissures have opened in the past week, has caused the lava lake at the top of the volcano to drop in elevation.
"If an explosion happens, there's a risk at all scales". Based on the 3-D model, the lake level was about 295 meters (970 feet) below the floor of Halemaumau Crater.
"If the lava column drops to the level of groundwater beneath Kilauea Caldera, influx of water into the conduit could cause steam-driven explosions", it said.
If rocks fall from the walls surrounding the magma in the volcano, the rocks can form a dam - and if the steam builds pressure, "it can eventually burst out in an explosion", Mr Swanson said.
Scientists have no real prediction as to when or where the lava will flow - or when it will end. "The blocks could weigh a few kilograms to several tons", the USGS said. Ash is primarily a nuisance, and can irritate the eyes and breathing, reduce visibility and cause roadways to be slippery, and interfere with electrical lines.
While Hawaii's Big Island braces for another potential volcano eruption in the coming weeks, volcanoes in the Cascades are rated "normal", meaning low for hazards.
That's because a lava lake at the summit is dropping.
But the eruptions could resume.
The amount of acid rain depends on the concentration of sulfur dioxide in the air, CNN's Guy says.
Talmadge Magno, the civil defense administrator for Hawaii County, said authorities also has asked a geothermic plant located half a mile from a Leilani Estates fissure to remove 12,000 gallons of a highly flammable chemical fuel from the area. Almost 300 people are staying in shelters. Unlike the lava flow from a regular eruption, this one is reportedly slower but damaging nonetheless.
Hawaii County managing director Wil Okabe says the evacuation is a precautionary measure. If the situation at the summit worsens, the National Park Service said it would take action to evacuate people and close Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to visitors. The eruption comes after days of earthquakes that rattled the area. The closest resorts, in Kona and the Kohala Coast, are more than 100 miles away on the west side of the island.
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