The volcano's Pu'u 'O'o crater collapsed on Saturday, and a 0.33-mile-long (0.5-kilometer-long) fissure ripped open on a separate region of the volcano. The new vent has since been sporadically erupting lava up to 80 feet (25 meters) high, according to the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, which is run by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
A fissure opening in this area is not unusual—a similar event occurred in 1997, according to John Eichelberger, coordinator for the USGS Volcanic Hazards Program.
In fact, Kilauea is the world's most active volcano, and it has erupted 34 times since 1952, according to the observatory. Kilauea has been erupting consistently since January 1983, during which time the volcano has spewed at least 0.5 cubic mile (2 cubic kilometers) of lava, Eichelberger said.
The lava flowing from Pu'u O'o crater (pictured March 6) shows no signs of stopping, Eichelberger said.
Meanwhile, the new erupting fissure ripped open on the volcano's eastern flank in what's called a rift zone—an area of underground, lava-filled cracks that radiate from Kilauea's central chamber of molten rock, he said.
Eichelberger added that the crater collapse and fissure were not surprises, as observatory scientists monitoring the volcano had noticed changes in their seismic data a few hours before the crater collapsed.
Lava flows from Pu'u 'O'o were active but sluggish Sunday, according to the observatory.
It's unknown whether the lava is residual material that's draining through the underground tube system or if the flow is still being supplied by lava from the crater, scientists say.
"In any case, the new outbreak has robbed Pu'u 'O'o of at least some of its lava supply from the summit," Eichelberger said.
Once thought to be a satellite of its giant neighbor Mauna Loa, scientists now know Kilauea has its own magma-filled plumbing system, which extends to the surface from more than 37 miles (60 kilometers) deep in the Earth.