The cause of volcanic lightning is not completely understood.
Geologists assume that the cause is similar to the cause of
lightning in thunderstorms. From an electric universe point of view,
the Earth is a small charged body moving in a large cell of plasma,
and there is charge waiting for a connection to it.
More than 150
times in the past two centuries, volcanic eruptions have
been accompanied by spectacular displays of lightning.
Sometimes broad bolts of lightning streak across the sky.
Other times St. Elmo's fire (ball lightning) cascades from
above. Sometimes volcanoes produce branching displays such
as at Sakurajima (see photo above.) The 1981 eruption of Mt
St Helens featured a spectacular display of sheet lightning,
with truck-sized balls of St Elmo's fire seen rolling along
the ground 29 miles north of the mountain. Other well-known
volcanoes that produced lightning include Vesuvius (1944),
Krakatau (1990's), Surtsey, the new volcanic island in
Iceland (1963), and Paracutin, the cinder cone that grew out
of a farmer's field in Mexico (1940's.)
The cause of
volcanic lightning is not completely understood. Geologists
assume that the cause is similar to the cause of lightning
in thunderstorms, which is also not completely understood.
[For discussion of lightning, see TPOD Sept 17, 2004,
Weather: Fair, Foul and Electric] For years, geologists have
talked about charge separation caused by volcanic dust
particles colliding and building up static charges. Recently
a new theory has been proposed that relies on the water
content of magma.
From an electric
universe point of view, the Earth is a small charged body
moving in a large cell of plasma. Because of this,
explanations of all physical phenomena in, on, and near the
Earth must take the electrical behavior of plasma into
account. The Physics of the Plasma Universe by Anthony
Peratt describes magma as a plasma, a medium containing
moving charges. So we should expect volcanoes not only to
exhibit electrical behavior but to have that behavior
connected with the larger plasma environment, that is, to be
elements in a larger electrical circuit.
But why do some
volcanoes produce lightning while others don't? More
curious, why do some volcanoes with large dusty plumes
produce little or no lightning and others with small or
mediocre plumes produce much lightning? The simple answer
could be that all volcanoes are electric but that the
lightning displays happen only when the resistance to the
volcanic current is high. You have a good example of this in
your home. The electric wires that carry the current from
the wall socket to your lamp don't produce heat or light.
But when that same current encounters the high resistance of
a tungsten filament, it does produce heat and light.
By studying the
electrical component of volcanoes on Earth, plasma
geologists can gather clues about the mysteries of Earth's
volcanic geologic history. For example, it may help to
explain why volcanism in the past -- the great basalt floods
-- was hotter and more voluminous than in the present. And
it may even help explain why Mars has volcanoes that are
many times larger than any found on Earth today. Were Earth
and Mars subjected to more powerful plasma interactions in
Please check out Professor Don Scott's
new book The Electric Sky.
READERS: Wallace Thornhill, David Talbott, and Anthony
Peratt will share the stage with other investigators of
planetary catastrophe at the British Society for
Interdisciplinary Studies “Conference 2007” August