How this volcanic eruption caused several hours of lightning

The new study was published in the journal of the Geological Society of America Geology.

The study focuses on the Taal Volcano eruption in the Philippines, which began a series of eruptions from January 2020, 43 years after its last eruption. The rising volcanic ash plume resulted in thousands of ground-to-ground lightning strikes over several hours.

The electrical activity occurs after the plume has risen high enough in the atmosphere to freeze. Radio waves produced by lightning can be detected quickly with remote sensing tools, allowing scientists to quickly collect data. Along with numerous social media posts with photos and videos of the event, scientists have identified a “highly electrified region at the base of the umbrella cloud”.

“Much more can be done to characterize an eruption when there are camera perspectives from all angles. And understanding the evolution of volcanic lightning helps us recognize early warning signs of ash hazards to aircraft. “said lead author Alexa Van Eaton.

In the umbrella cloud, they also observed cold plasma discharges sparking among the clouds.

“We were surprised to find the high-altitude umbrella cloud crawling with these tiny blue streamers. The relationship between these little ribbons of ionized air and powerful lightning remains an enigma,” Van Eaton continued.

You can read more of the study here.

Robert M. Larson