May 28, 2010
Via: National Geographic:
The ash plume from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which crippled international air travel in April, held a shocking secret: an unexpected electric charge.
Ash plumes directly over erupting volcanoes have been known to generate lightning, and electrically charged ash has been found in previous plumes up to 30 miles (50 kilometers) from their source volcanoes.
But according to a new study, electric ash from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano was found a record 745 miles (1,200 kilometers) away from the eruption.
At that distance, it wasn’t energy from the eruption itself that charged the ash, said study co-author Giles Harrison, a meteorologist at the University of Reading in the U.K. Based on the average size and shape of particles in the ash, “any initial charging that occurred would have decayed away many times over.”
In fact, ash from deep in the volcanic plume was still charged 32 hours after being spewed from the Iceland peak, which suggests that the charge was self-renewing, the scientists say.
The discovery means that many volcanic ash plumes might be electrified, which could have implications for the air-travel industry.
Electric Ash Deep in Volcanic Plume
The Eyjafjallajökull volcano started erupting in late March, and on April 14 the volcano began belching out a gigantic plume of ash.
The plume traveled to continental Europe, grounding flights around the world for days, due to fears of ash clogging plane engines.
This article was posted: Friday, May 28, 2010 at 4:13 am