What I like to Call Mother Nature’s Version of Fireworks

January is volcano awareness month…for Hawaii anyways.  This is where our journey begins. Volcanoes can produce large amounts of ash, lava, and even volcanic lightning.


In order for lightning to form there has to be a large charge separation between two masses. If the charge separation is large enough to overcome air resistance it can create a path of ionized air which conducts electricity forming lightning. The way that volcanic lightning is formed is by ash, which begins as a neutral (not positively or negatively charged). creating friction with the air causing it to become charged. A way to better understand this is by rubbing a balloon on a cat and watching the balloon stick to the cat for a small amount of time.


Volcanic lightning can have many different shapes or forms.  It can be seen in ball lightning, bolt lightning, sheet lightning, or a combination.

Photos: Oregon State University

WNCT-TV 9 On Your Side provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s