This evening the Sakurajima volcano in Japan had an average sized eruption. But nothing was average about what locals saw thereafter! Lightning could be seen coming from the lava and from behind the dark smoke. A study in the journal Science indicated that electrical charges are generated when rock fragments, ash, and ice particles in a volcanic plume collide and produce static charges. These static charges create a lightning bolt. A lightning bolt is nature’s way of balancing the distance between negatively charged and positively charged objects. Lightning is the electrical flow that results when this charge separation becomes too great for air to resist the flow of electricity.
This week there have been 2 major volcanic eruptions! The first happened on December 1 near Leon, Nicaragua with the eruption of Mt. Momotombo. This is the first time Momotombo has erupted in over 110 years! According to volcanologist, Erik Klemetti from Denison University in Ohio, “Although volcanoes can experience periods of dormancy and activity, very little is known about why a volcano might stay quiet for 110 years and then rumble back to life.”
The second volcano to erupt this week was Mt. Etna in Sicily. Mt. Etna gave Sicilians quite the spectacle on Thursday, December 3, 2015 as it erupted and created volcanic lightning over the city. This is the first time in 2 years since Mt. Etna has erupted.
Volcanic lightning also known as a dirty thunderstorm is caused when electrical charges are generated when rock fragments, ash, and ice particles in a volcanic plume collide and produce static charges, just as ice particles collide in regular thunderstorms. Some of the most famous instances of volcanic lightning include occurred in Chile above the Chaiten Volcano, Alaska’s Mount Augustine volcano, Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano, and most recently Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy.
Fun Fact: Why do volcanoes erupt? Volcanoes are just a natural way that the Earth and other planets have of cooling off and releasing internal heat and pressure!
Nearly 4,000 Evacuated After the Calbuco Volcano erupts twice! The view from Puerto Varas shows a high column of ash and lava spewing from the Calbuco volcano in the darkness of early Thursday. The Calbuco volcano erupted Wednesday, spewing a giant plume of ash high into the sky. This volcano has stayed dormant for the last 42 years! Check out this time lapse video of the Calbuco volcano erupting!