Lightning and Electrical Activity During the Eruptions of Augustine Volcano

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Lightning and other electrical activity were measured during the 2006 eruption of Augustine Volcano. We found two phases of the activity, the explosive phase corresponding to the explosive eruptions and the plume phase. We classified the lightning into three types, vent discharges, near-vent lightning, and plume lightning. Vent discharges are small, 10 to 100 m sparks, that occur at rate as great as 10,000 s-1 at the mouth of the volcano during the energetic explosive eruptions. The vent discharges were observed six different times. Near-vent lightning appears to develop upward from the volcanic cone into the developing column during explosions. This lightning is small, in the range of 1 to 7 km, and short, 0.01 to 0.1 s. The behavior of the near-vent lightning indicates an overall positive charge in the ejecta. The plume lightning resembled intracloud thunderstorm lightning. Often it was branched, spanned more than 10 km, and lasted more than 0.5 s.

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U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper, no. 1769, p. 579-608