The volcano on the Big Island exploded at about 6am.
USGS geologists and staff were evacuated from the Kilauea summit shortly before the blast and a webcam showed a grey plume of ash and chunks of magma known as pyroclasts that showered the volcano's slopes.
Scientists are warning this morning's explosive eruption on the summit of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be the first of many. "Protect yourself from ash fallout".
"With stratovolcanoes, when that lava reaches the surface, you get a very sudden expansion of that gas, and this generates a much more violent explosion", Malone said. "It's not going to be the only one".
The USGS said, Depending on weather conditions, that the ash might fall as far as Hilo, 30 miles to the northeast.
Kilauea is a shield volcano, which means it emits fluid basalt lava and has a broad dome shape, instead of a steep peak.
In the 1924 eruption, which lasted 2-1/2 weeks, one person was killed by debris shot from the crater and areas as far as 35 miles (56 km) to the southwest and 30 miles (48 km) to the east were dusted with ash, according to the USGS.
The Arizona guard members helped Hawaii residents who lost their homes because of the fissures and lava covering and destroying their neighborhoods.More news: Lewis Hamilton 'close' to new deal with Mercedes
Michelle Coombes from the US Geological Survey said while it was a powerful explosion, it was short-lived. Michael O'Meally, 23, who lives in Aiea and works in sales in Waikiki, said a friend who works at a Ko Olina resort told him she has fielded several calls from concerned guests.
Activity remains high on other parts of the island as well, at least 125 shallow quakes rattled the volcano's summit and surrounding communities on Wednesday.
Residents with respiratory problems had already been warned to stay indoors in the area on Thursday following an early morning ash cloud eruption at the Halemaumau Crater.
What is happening at Kīlauea is fundamentally different from that 1980 eruption, experts said.More news: Author and Richmond native Tom Wolfe dies at 87
The noxious gas, normally emitted at risky levels only from the volcano's Halemaumau Crater, was seeping at a greater rate from the fissures in Leilani Estates, a residential area of about four square miles in the Big Island's Puna district.
Kilauea's falling lava lake has likely descended to a level at or below the water table, allowing water to run on to the top of its lava column and create steam-driven blasts, they said.More news: Episcopal Church chief Bishop Michael Curry to evangelise at royal wedding ceremony
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