Mostly Mute Monday: Volcanic Lightning (Synopsis)

“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!

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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?

By Jodi (u15048421) (not verified) on 30 Mar 2015 #permalink

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

By L van Rensburg… (not verified) on 31 Mar 2015 #permalink

Is the volts of a natural electric thunderstorm more or less than a volcanic lightning?
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By Michaela van Rooyen (not verified) on 31 Mar 2015 #permalink

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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By Christelle Coetzee (not verified) on 31 Mar 2015 #permalink

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?

By Megan (u15031153) (not verified) on 01 Apr 2015 #permalink

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?

By TN Mphateng (not verified) on 01 Apr 2015 #permalink

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.

By Charldon Viljo… (not verified) on 01 Apr 2015 #permalink

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?.....

By Thandeka MM Nk… (not verified) on 01 Apr 2015 #permalink

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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By Dalton Moller (not verified) on 01 Apr 2015 #permalink

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?

By Joshua Ndoli(u… (not verified) on 02 Apr 2015 #permalink

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?

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By Pietersen, F. H (not verified) on 05 Apr 2015 #permalink

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?

By jacobus du ple… (not verified) on 05 Apr 2015 #permalink