Explosion rocks Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, sending ash 1 mile high

An explosion rocked Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano early Tuesday morning, spewing ash nearly a mile into the air and sparking an earthquake that registered 5.5 magnitude on the Richter scale, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The tremor occurred at around 4:30 a.m. local time, the agency reported. It was not clear if any damage was caused, but no tsunami was expected, officials said.

Thousands of residents have been evacuated from the area and lava spewing from the volcano’s fissures have destroyed more than 100 structures since the first eruption a month ago.

The incident didn’t trigger tsunami warnings due to the small size of the earthquake.

“It’s not big enough,” Cindi Preller, geologist and duty scientist at the Oahu office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told ABC News.

Instead, tsunamis or tidal waves, become more serious threats if the size of the earthquake increases, Preller said.

“Anything above 6.9 [magnitude] is our threshold,” she said, noting that it would warn people to stay clear of the ocean in such an event.

On May 4, a 6.9-magnitude earthquake was centered near the south flank of Kilauea one hour after a 5.4-magnitude earthquake struck nearby, the U.S. Geological Survey confirmed.

Eruptions like the one today may not wane anytime soon, Preller cautioned.

“This could go on for months,” she said. “The volcano is active and when these eruptive sequences get underway it’s doing exactly as it’s supposed to do, behaving as it should.”

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ABC News: U.S.