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Tue, 30 Nov 2021
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Binoculars

Incredible Images of Iceland Volcano from Just a Few Kilometers Away

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© Snaevarr Gudmundsson
Lightning visible in the plume of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland on April 17, 2010.
Astronomer Snaevarr Gudmundsson from Iceland was able to travel to within just a few kilometers from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, and shared his incredible close-up images with Universe Today. "I stayed near the volcano from about 16:00 hours to 22:00 hours on Saturday and watched its impressive eruption," Gudmundsson said in an email to me. "Amazing event, awesome explosions of 1200 °C hot magma reaching ice and water. I shot more than 550 images during these hours of continuous enjoyment. Sounds ridiculous but its ever changing appearance was never boring."

The massive plume put on an impressive display - from lightning forming within the plume to an incredible amount of spewing ash. On one of following pictures you can see helicopter for size comparison of the plume.

Gudmundsson said he and other photographers were a safe distance from the eruption, but were a few kilometers away. "Nearby was a small river and its prominent sound prevented us from hearing much in the eruption itself except a loud roar from thunders from time to time," he said. "During daylight we even glimpsed some lightning but at dusk (the photo is taken at about 22:00 in the evening) they were easily spotted especially during active periods of explosions."

Bizarro Earth

Volcanic lightning around Eyjafjallajokull eruption

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© Harald Edens
It is well known that volcanic eruptions produce strong lightning. Less well known is why? Ordinary lightning in thunderstorms is not fully understood; volcanic lightning is even more of a mystery.

To investigate, a team of researchers from New Mexico Tech has traveled to Iceland to monitor the Eyjafjallajokull volcano--and they have found it crackling with electricity.

"On the evening of April 16th, there were some small eruptions producing ash clouds up to about 6-7 km, with lightning," says photographer Harald Edens. "The sky was nice and clear, so I was able to photograph the bolts from the town of Hvolsvollur using my Nikon D700 and a 80-200/2.8 lens."

Bizarro Earth

A New Kind Of Lightning Discovered

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© Bretwood Higman
Lightning in the ash cloud atop Mount Redoubt from the March 28 eruption.
When volcano seismologist Stephen McNutt at the University of Alaska Fairbanks's Geophysical Institute saw strange spikes in the seismic data from the Mount Spurr eruption in 1992, he had no idea that his research was about to take an electrifying turn.

"The seismometers were actually picking up lightning strikes," said McNutt. "I knew that I had to reach out to the physicists studying lightning."

With McNutt's curiosity about volcanic lightning sparked, he teamed up with physicist and electrical engineer Ronald Thomas and Sonja Behnke, a graduate student in atmospheric physics at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, N.M. for a unique collaboration in order to learn more about volcanic lighting.

When the Mount Redoubt volcano started making seismic noise in January 2009, McNutt alerted Thomas and Behnke that this would be a great opportunity to capture some new volcanic lightning data. By the time the volcano erupted in March, the team had four Lightning Mapping Arrays set up to monitor the lightning from the eruption.

Blackbox

Ye gods! Ancient volcano could have blasted Atlantis myth

Santorini Volcanoe Map

Schematic geological section of Santorini
Little wonder the ancients believed in lightning-bolt-throwing gods and smoking monsters emerging from the underworld. As a new marine geology survey of an ancient volcano in the Aegean Sea reveals, they may have been justifiably cowed.

Not much is left of the Santorini Islands, among Greece's prettiest tourist sites. They encircle a massive volcanic crater, where more than 3,500 years ago one of the largest eruptions in recorded history took place.

The blast entombed an ancient town, Akrotiri, and seemingly altered the course of world history.

And now the survey indicates that the eruption was even more powerful than once believed.

Bizarro Earth

Sarychev Peak Volcano Eruption Earlier This Month Affecting Sunsets (and Weather?)

Sarychev Peak Eruption, Kuril Islands
© NASA Earth Observatory
Sarychev Peak Eruption, Kuril Islands
Thanks to Spaceweather.com for coverage of this eruption.

Perfect timing. On June 12th, just as Russia's Sarychev Peak volcano was erupting for the first time in 20 years, the International Space Station flew directly overhead. Astronauts had their camera ready and snapped one of the most dramatic Earth-science photos ever taken from space.

Researchers are studying this rare photo to learn about the early stages of powerful volcanic eruptions. A few phenomena stand out.

(1) The volcano erupted with such force, the plume actually punched through the atmosphere. Note how clouds around the volcano have parted in a circular ring--that is a result of a shock wave produced by the upward blast.

(2) The plume is a mixture of brown ash and white steam. A "dirty thunderstorm" complete with lightning could be in progress within the roiling cloud.

(3) The smooth white bubble on top of the plume is probably a mass of water condensing from air shoved upward by the rising ash column. If so, it is akin to the iridescent pileus clouds sometimes featured on spaceweather.com.

Bizarro Earth

Supervolcano may be brewing beneath Mount St Helens

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© MAI / Rex Features
The US volcano may be connected to a semi-molten magma chamber that could fuel a giant eruption.
Is a supervolcano brewing beneath Mount St Helens? Peering under the volcano has revealed what may be an extraordinarily large zone of semi-molten rock, which would be capable of feeding a giant eruption.

Magma can be detected with a technique called magnetotellurics, which builds up a picture of what lies underground by measuring fluctuations in electric and magnetic fields at the surface. The fields fluctuate in response to electric currents travelling below the surface, induced by lightning storms and other phenomena. The currents are stronger when magma is present, since it is a better conductor than solid rock.

Graham Hill of GNS Science, an earth and nuclear science institute in Wellington, New Zealand, led a team that set up magnetotelluric sensors around Mount St Helens in Washington state, which erupted with force in 1980. The measurements revealed a column of conductive material that extends downward from the volcano. About 15 kilometres below the surface, the relatively narrow column appears to connect to a much bigger zone of conductive material.

Cloud Lightning

Kilauea Volcanic Lightning

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© Stephen O'Meara
On May 19th, adventure photographer Stephen O'Meara was monitoring an eruption of the Rabaul volcano in Papua, New Guinea, when something happened that, he says, "I'll remember for a very long time. A storm cloud approached the volcano's 2 km plume, and lightning began to arc between the two." He set up his camera in a secure location and recorded the "awesome and blinding" spectacle.

This isn't the first time lightning has been observed around a volcano. Recent examples include Alaska's Mt. Redoubt, Chile's Chaitin volcano and Kilauea in Hawaii. Clouds of water vapor shoot out of these volcanoes in a dusty mixture likened to a "dirty thunderstorm," and lightning emerges from within the turbulent plume.

Bizarro Earth

Rotation is Key to Understanding Volcanic Plumes

Rotation
© UPI/Landov
In 2008, the Mount Chaiten eruption in southern Chile showed what appeared to be a volcanic plume wrapped in a sheath of lightning.
A 200-year-old report by a sea captain and a stunning photograph of the 2008 eruption of Mount Chaiten are helping scientists at the University of Illinois better understand strong volcanic plumes.

in a paper to appear in the March 26 issue of the journal Nature, the scientists show that the spontaneous formation of a "volcanic mesocyclone" - a cyclonically rotating columnar vortex - causes the volcanic plume to rotate about its axis. The rotation, in turn, triggers a sheath of lightning and creates waterspouts or dust devils. The origins of these volcanic phenomena were previously unexplained.

"Rotation is an essential element of a strong volcanic plume," said Pinaki Chakraborty, a postdoctoral researcher and the paper's lead author. "By taking into account the rotation, we can better predict the effects of volcanic eruptions."

Bizarro Earth

New rumbling from Chilean volcano worries experts

Santiago - Chile's Chaiten volcano groaned, rumbled and shuddered on Thursday, raising new concerns among authorities, as lightning bolts pierced the huge clouds of hot ash hovering ominously above its crater.

Chile's National Emergency Office, ONEMI, said heavy ash kept shooting from the volcano in southern Chile as it generated small tremors.

On the ground, heavy flooding hit the area around Chaiten as falling ash swelled rivers, overflowing their banks.

"There's been additional volcanic activity that we're really worried about," regional governor Sergio Galilea told reporters.

The Chaiten volcano, 760 miles south of the capital Santiago, started erupting on May 2 for the first time in thousands of years, spewing ash, gas and molten rock into the air.

Cloud Lightning

Chile: Dirty thunderstorm shoots lightning from volcano

Recent pictures of the Chaiten volcano in Chile showing lighting bursting out show a marvellous phenomenon known as volcanic lightning.

The photo of lightning bursting out during a volcanic eruption in Chile, above, was a truly awesome sight. Although the picture seemed to show a thunderstorm colliding with the cloud of volcanic ash, it actually showed a marvellous phenomenon known as volcanic lightning.

Usually, lightning is sparked off by countless tiny pieces of ice inside a turbulent thundercloud banging into one another. Each collision generates static electricity, rather like a balloon rubbed on a jumper.



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©Unknown