Laboratory studies on electrical effects during volcanic eruptions

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H. Röder
B. Zimanowski
R. Büttner


This laboratory study reports on electrical phenomena during the explosive eruption of a basaltoid silicate melt. Contact electricity is produced in the phase of thermo-hydraulic fracturing of magma during the explosive interaction with water. The electrical charge produced is directly proportional to the force of the explosion, as the force of explosion is linearly proportional to the surface generated by the thermo-hydraulic fracturing. Simulation of the ejection history using inerted gas as a driving medium under otherwise constant conditions did not result in significant electric charging. The results have the potential to explain in nature observed lightening in eruption clouds of explosive volcanic events.

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Röder H, Zimanowski B, Büttner R. Laboratory studies on electrical effects during volcanic eruptions. Ann. Geophys. [Internet]. 1999Nov.25 [cited 2021Jun.21];42(3). Available from: