Throwback Thursday: The Physics of Volcanic Lightning

“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

It’s one of the most beautiful (and terrifying) sights in the world. But what causes it?

If the Earth is about to spew volcanic ash, smoke, soot and even lava from deep within its bowels at us, the least it could do is not electrocute us at the same time. Right?

Image credit: Sigurður Hrafn Stefnisson of Image credit: Sigurður Hrafn Stefnisson of

Yet over 150 separate volcanic eruptions have been recorded with volcanic lightning accompanying them. But there are good physical reasons to not only believe that such a thing is possible, but that it might be rare to have ash-rich eruptions that don't produce lightning.

Come find out the physics of why this is so. We might not know everything about the mechanism behind this process, but we do know an awful lot!


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Aaaah, nature in its perfection .....

I'm surprised no new-agers have claimed lava bathing is "natures cure" for hypothermia.