Brevia

Electrical Activity During the 2006 Mount St. Augustine Volcanic Eruptions

Science  23 Feb 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5815, pp. 1097
DOI: 10.1126/science.1136091

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Abstract

By using a combination of radio frequency time-of-arrival and interferometer measurements, we observed a sequence of lightning and electrical activity during one of Mount St. Augustine's eruptions. The observations indicate that the electrical activity had two modes or phases. First, there was an explosive phase in which the ejecta from the explosion appeared to be highly charged upon exiting the volcano, resulting in numerous apparently disorganized discharges and some simple lightning. The net charge exiting the volcano appears to have been positive. The second phase, which followed the most energetic explosion, produced conventional-type discharges that occurred within plume. Although the plume cloud was undoubtedly charged as a result of the explosion itself, the fact that the lightning onset was delayed and continued after and well downwind of the eruption indicates that in situ charging of some kind was occurring, presumably similar in some respects to that which occurs in normal thunderstorms.

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