Volcanic Lightning Earth

Believe it or not, the image you see above was not captured on Mars or any other planet, just right here on Earth. Volcanic activity produces lightning-friendly conditions in multiple ways. The enormous quantity of pulverized material and gases ejected into the atmosphere with explosive power, creates a dense plume of highly charged particles, which establishes the perfect conditions for lightning. Continue reading for more cool facts and videos.

5. Caused by Ash Density and Constant Motion

The ash density and constant motion within the volcanic plume continually produces electrostatic ionization, resulting in very powerful and very frequent flashes attempting to neutralize itself.

4. Also Called “Dirty Thunderstorm”

Due to the extensive solid material (ash) content, unlike the water rich charge generating zones of a normal thundercloud, it is often called a dirty thunderstorm.

3. Witnessed as Far Back as 79AD

Powerful and frequent flashes have been witnessed in the volcanic plume as far back as the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius by Pliny The Younger.

2. Smaller Flashes May Appear from Vents

Vapors and ash originating from vents on the volcano’s flanks may produce more localized and smaller flashes upwards of 2.9 km long.

1. Highly Charged Before Entering Atmosphere

Small, short duration sparks, recently documented near newly extruded magma, attest to the material being highly charged prior to even entering the atmosphere.