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Electrification of experimental volcanic jets with varying water content and temperature

S. Stern 2019 Geophysical Res. Letters


S. Stern, C. Cimarelli, D. Gaudin, B. Scheu, D.B. Dingwell

Geophysical Research Letters


Volcanic lightning – a near ubiquitous feature of explosive volcanic eruptions – possesses great potential for the analysis of volcanic plume dynamics. To date, lack of quantitative knowledge on the relationships between plume characteristics hinders efficient data analysis and application of the resulting parameterizations. We use a shock‐tube apparatus for rapid decompression experiments to produce particle‐laden jets. We have systematically and independently varied the water content (0‐27 wt%) and the temperature (25‐320 °C) of the particle‐gas mixture. The addition of a few wt% of water is sufficient to reduce the observed electrification by an order of magnitude. With increasing temperature, a larger number of smaller discharges are observed, with the overall amount of electrification staying similar. Changes in jet dynamics are proposed as the cause of the temperature‐dependence, while multiple factors (including the higher conductivity of wet ash) can be seen responsible for the decreased electrification in wet experiments.

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