How Do Volcanoes Make Lightning?
“Volcanic lightning appears to occur most frequently around volcanoes with large ash plumes, particularly during active stages of the eruption, where flowing, molten lava creates the largest temperature gradients. The phenomena of lightning has been exquisitely recorded around a number of recent volcanic eruptions, including Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull, Japan’s Sakurajima, Italy’s Mt. Etna, and Chile’s Puyehue, Calbuco and Chaiten volcanoes. But what you may not know is this phenomenon was not only captured during Mt. Vesuvius’ last eruption in 1944, but was accurately described nearly 2,000 years ago when it erupted all the way back in the year 79!”
Volcanoes are some of the most potentially destructive natural phenomena known to occur on our world. The most violent eruptions feature not only lava, but soot, ash, volatile gases, and even enormous chunks of rock hurled great distances. What you might not realize, however, is just how frequently these eruptions are accompanied by another spectacular show: volcanic lightning. Lightning isn’t only found in thunderstorms or other great electrical discharges between the clouds and the ground, but is produced in volcanic eruptions all throughout the world, and throughout history as well. After countless generations, where we wondered what could produce such an unusual but spectacular show, we’ve finally figured it out.