"We know the volcano is capable of doing this", Charles Mandeville, volcano hazards coordinator for the US Geological Survey, said, citing similar explosions at Kilauea in 1924, 1790 and four other times in the last few thousand years. At that point, steam pressure builds then explodes.
The volcano could eject rocks weighing as much as 10 to 12 tons over a distance of half a mile (1 kilometer) and launch pebble-size rocks across a couple of miles, according to geologists from the observatory.
Hawaii County authorities sent a text message to residents in the southeast corner of the Big Island that a wind change would bring rising levels of sulfur dioxide gas, which is fatal if inhaled in large quantities.
The Reuters news agency reports that exposure to very high levels of the gas, which causes acid rain, can be life-threatening, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. It's a growing concern for both the public and the governor who wants the risky solvent out by Thursday, reports CBS News' Carter Evans. They can drift far from the eruption and hang in the air.
So a river of LAVA from a VOLCANO is making it's way through your neighborhood and you break into people's homes and steal their stuff?More news: Vladimir Putin Scores 5 Goals in 'Legends of Hockey' Exhibition Game
NASA was able to capture a huge plume of ash erupting from Kilauea volcano in Hawaii.
Lava has flowed from fissures and has destroyed at least 36 homes and other buildings, plus anything else in its path, since it erupted about a week ago.
And concerns emerged that the lava could get near the Puna Geothermal Plant, where flammable liquids are stored, CNN affiliate Hawaii News Now reported. He says it would be "very hazardous" if a volcanic vent were to open under the facility where the fuel is stored. All 50,000 gallons (189,270 liters) of pentane was expected to be removed by the end of Thursday.
Authorities had previously ordered almost 2,000 residents to leave Lanipuna Gardens and the neighboring Leilani Estates, both located in the mostly rural district of Puna on Hawaii's Big Island. But some ignored the order and stayed to watch over their property.
The Hawai'i County Civil Defence Agency issued an updated alert Tuesday night that detailed the areas where the new vents opened and when residents would be allowed to check on their homes. There was no sign of holdouts in Lanipuna afterward, he said.More news: Bayern and Germany goalkeeper Neuer not sure of WC trip
All residents of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens Subdivisions have been required to evacuate.
There have been 15 surface cracks opened by the volcano.
"It may flow like sticky syrup, but is more dense than cement", Benjamin Andrews, director of the Global Volcanism Program at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, told CNN, adding that putting walls or barriers in front of a flow will fail because the lava will "bulldoze them out of the way".
Officials warn that lava could flow downhill and burn areas that don't now face danger and that toxic volcanic gas could kill people, especially the elderly and those with breathing problems.
"I was going to raise my daughters here, but it doesn't look like it was going to turn out to be the scenario we hoped", Kealoha said. "My son asks, 'Mommy, can we go home?'"More news: Southwest Airlines accident: Pilots recall moment engine exploded
Kilauea has been in a near-constant state of activity for the last three decades, but it usually just leaks a little lava harmlessly into the sea.