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Volatile ecosystems, a natural wind tunnel, volcanic lightning, and stress & strain on Venus
Date:12/11/2013

al Sciences, LMU Mnchen, Theresienstrae 41, 80333 Munich, Germany; cimarelli@min.uni-muenchen.de; corradocimarelli@gmail.com. Published online ahead of print on 6 Dec. 2013; http://dx.doi.org/10.1130/G34802.1.

Volcanic eruptions and lightning may have contributed significantly to sparking early life on our planet and are commonly presented in the media as a majestic wonder of nature. As a matter of fact, ash-rich explosive eruptions are associated with intense electrical activity, and volcanic lightning detection is becoming a regular technique to monitor volcanic eruptions. However, this phenomenon has been so far poorly investigated, preventing advancement of our understanding of electrification processes in volcanic plumes. We present the first evidence of experimentally generated volcanic lightning discharges under controlled laboratory conditions, providing a model for their occurrence in nature. Our results indicate that fluid dynamics of the particle-laden jet controls particle electrification by collision (triboelectrification) and the distribution of charge within the plume, which are necessary conditions for lightning generation. We also find that the number of discharges increases proportionally with increasing loading of fine particles, suggesting that lightning monitoring at active volcanoes can be implemented to detect emission of fine ash, thereby forecasting its transportability and residence time in the atmosphere. In this respect, volcanic lightning is not only a magnificent display of natural fireworks but can also help us understand the electrical properties of volcanic plumes by revealing their internal dynamics.

http://www.geosociety.org


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Contact: Kea Giles
kgiles@geosociety.org
Geological Society of America
Source:Eurekalert  

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