A small lava fountain erupts from a new vent on the flank of Pu'u O'o spatter and cinder cone on the east rift zone of Kilauea Volcano, Hawai'i. Credit: C. Heliker / U.S. Geological Survey.
A vent is an opening in Earth's crust from which molten rock and volcanic gases escape onto the ground or into the atmosphere. Vents may consist of a single circular-shaped structure, a large elongate fissure and fracture, or a tiny ground crack. The release of volcanic gases and the eruption of molten rock will result in an assortment of constructional features ranging from enormous shield volcanoes and calderas to fumaroles and small rootless hornitos.