Close view of a fumarole on Kilauea Volcano. Elemental sulfur vapor escaping from the fumarole has cooled to form yellow-colored crystals around its margins. Credit: R. L. Christiansen / U.S. Geological Survey.
A fumarole is a vent from which volcanic gas escapes into the atmosphere. Fumaroles may occur along tiny cracks or long fissures, in chaotic clusters or fields, and on the surfaces of lava flows and thick deposits of pyroclastic flows. They may persist for decades or centuries if they are above a persistent heat source or disappear within weeks to months if they occur atop a fresh volcanic deposit that quickly cools. See also geyser.