“If you are caught on a golf course during a storm and are afraid of lightning, hold up a 1-iron. Not even God can hit a 1-iron.” –Lee Trevino

When it comes to lightning, you inevitably think of thunderstorms, rain, and the exchange of huge amounts of charge between the clouds above and the Earth. But there’s another sight that’s perhaps even more spectacular.

Image credit: Francisco Negroni / Associated Press, Agenci Uno / European Press Photo Agency.

Image credit: Francisco Negroni / Associated Press, Agenci Uno / European Press Photo Agency.

During volcanic eruptions, the high temperatures, volatile atoms-and-molecules and disrupted airflow can create an incredible separation of charge, leading to the remarkable phenomenon of volcanic lightning.

Image credit: Francisco Negroni / Associated Press, Agenci Uno / European Press Photo Agency.

Image credit: Francisco Negroni / Associated Press, Agenci Uno / European Press Photo Agency.

Come see some spectacular examples (and science) on today’s Mostly Mute Monday!

Comments

  1. #1 Jodi (u15048421)
    Pretoria
    March 31, 2015

    Lightning caused by an electrical storm is basically a sudden electrostatic discharge between electrically charged regions of the atmosphere. Does this same principal apply to volcanic lightning?

  2. #2 L van Rensburg-15018939
    March 31, 2015

    Volcanic lightning!! WOW truly spectacular, but I don’t want to be caught in the middle of that terrifying volcanic erupting lightning storm.

  3. #3 Michaela van Rooyen
    March 31, 2015

    Is the volts of a natural electric thunderstorm more or less than a volcanic lightning?
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  4. #4 Christelle Coetzee
    South Africa
    March 31, 2015

    Is it true that the large amounts of water released by volcanic eruptions fuel these types of thunderstorms and if so, how does it work?
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  5. #5 Megan (u15031153)
    South Africa
    April 1, 2015

    Some say that volcanic lightning can only occur at the beginning of an eruption. Is that true, or can the volcanic lightning occur throughout the eruption?

  6. #6 TN Mphateng
    Pretoria, South Africa
    April 1, 2015

    What an interesting phenomenon this is.

    Can one say that volcanic lightning is more dangerous, due to (1) the ionization of neutral atoms and molecules at high temperatures; and (2) the separation of charges, compared to a thunderstorm?

  7. #7 Charldon Viljoen u14116562
    University of Pretoria, South Africa
    April 2, 2015

    I would imagine that it would be more violent than your common thunder storm however if I were in the vicinity of the volcano I would be more concerned with the volcanic eruption.

  8. #8 Thandeka MM Nkosi(u15176381)
    Pretoria
    April 2, 2015

    Wouldnt it be difficult to clarify the measurement of the electrostatic field around the volcano(causing seperation of charges) due to the different charge configurations caused by the electrostatic field? ( Stephen R,2009). if so, shouldnt we develop more efficient equipment to validate the statement above before any further conclusions?…..

  9. #9 Dalton Moller
    South Africa
    April 2, 2015

    Correct me if I am wrong but to my knowledge, lightning produced by a volcanic eruption is the same lightning produced by a thunderstorm. The only difference between the two is that volcanic lightning are more frequent than lightning in a thunderstorm because of the increased heat and moving dust particles.
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    04667124

  10. #10 Joshua Ndoli(u15401104)
    Gauteng , Johannesburg
    April 3, 2015

    Its fascinating that two natural disasters together can cause such amazing phenomena, certain communities live next to volcanoes, therefore if communities experience such phenomena’s is it lethal for the population to be near by such activities? Have there reported any deaths of individuals in such a disasters?

  11. #11 Pietersen, F. H
    April 5, 2015

    If one thinks about the amount of heat and energy a volcano can give off, could it be possible that volcanic lightning has the ability to cause greater damage to an object – if it hits a particular object – than normal lightning? Also, is it possible that a volcanic storm can move, like a normal thunderstorm can?

    (15016961)

  12. #12 jacobus du plessis, 15037909
    April 6, 2015

    Lightning caused by an electrical storm is basically a sudden electrostatic discharge between electrically charged regions of the atmosphere. Does this same principal apply to volcanic lightning?

  13. […] has been exceptionally good at capturing exciting images of this phenomenon. In 2015 he took three photos of the eruption of the Cordon Caulle Volcano in the Rivers Region of Patagonia, Chile. All of them […]

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