Tonga Volcano eruption causes record number of Lightnings

(ORDO NEWS) — The eruption of an underwater volcano near the island of Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Haapai was accompanied by one of the largest accumulations of volcanic lightning.

Almost 600,000 lightning strikes were recorded in three days! This number beats the previous record of 340,000 during the Anak Krakatoa eruption in Indonesia in 2018

The volcanic island of Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Haapai, located about 65 km north of the state capital of Tonga, smoked for about a month before a series of explosions began on January 13.

Two days later, the rising magma, heated to 1000°C, met seawater at 20°C, causing an instantaneous and powerful explosion. Almost 400,000 lightning strikes were recorded that evening in six hours!

During a volcanic eruption, there are two sources of lightning. When the plume is less than 4 km high, rocks, lava and ash rub against each other and exchange electrons. This results in lightning if there is a suitable charge separation.

As the plume rises higher, up to 8 km or more, the water in the erupting magma cools enough to form ice particles of varying sizes. Then they rub against each other and themselves cause lightning, as during a thunderstorm.

According to GLD360 ground-based global lightning detection network data, a total of nearly 590,000 lightning strikes occurred over a three-day period.

Proximity to sea water played a big role in this. Lava breaks into smaller pieces when it comes into contact with water, thereby increasing the number of charged particles available for collision, causing lightning.

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