Volcanic Lightning Happens At The Beginning Of A Volcanic Eruption

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Volcanic Lightning Happens At The Beginning Of A Volcanic Eruption

Volcanoes and lightning storms are awe-inspiring, fear-inducing feats of nature. Put them together and you have a truly terrifying event. Volcanic lightning is a mysterious phenomenon that generally occurs at the early stages of a volcanic eruption, and it's taken scientists many years to determine its exact cause. It happens in two places: close to the ground in dense ash clouds, and high up near the stratosphere in the plume of volcanic smoke. For volcanic lightning near the ground, research suggests the cause is the rubbing together of individual ash particles, which builds up enough static electricity to generate a lightning bolt. Sky-high volcanic lightning has a more surprising cause: ice. Scientists think that as the plume of ash and water vapor rises from the volcano, ice begins to form in its highest layers. From there, lightning forms the same way it does in a thundercloud: ice crystals colliding build up enough of an electric charge to trigger a lightning strike. Want to see volcanic lightning in action? Watch the videos below.

Io Has Tides Like Earth, Only They're Stronger And Made Of Rock

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Io Has Tides Like Earth, Only They're Stronger And Made Of Rock

The most volcanic known object in our solar system, Io, is a moon pockmarked by active volcanoes and lakes of lava. Its surface is constantly pulled to and fro by the gravity of Jupiter's other moons and the huge planet itself. These forces result in solid ground tides, which heave the ground up and down depending on where Io is in its orbit. The moon's "tidal bulge" can shift in height by up to 330 feet (100 meters).

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Key Facts to Know

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    Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede, is bigger than the planet Mercury. 1:14

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    Io is the most volcanic object in the solar system, with more than 400 active volcanoes. 3:31

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    Many scientists believe that Europa could harbor life. 6:26

What If The Yellowstone Supervolcano Erupted Today?

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What If The Yellowstone Supervolcano Erupted Today?

Just a few miles beneath the ground at Yellowstone National Park, a gigantic reservoir of magma is steadily pushing upwards. This activity produces earthquakes, geysers, and explosions of steam, though it's been about 640,000 years since the supervolcano's last caldera-forming eruption. Its biggest eruption occurred 2.1 million years ago, blanketing large areas of North America in ash. Fortunately, geophysicists say that the odds of an eruption occurring in any given year are about 1 in 700,000.

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Key Facts to Know

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    Scientists would be able to warn people if a supervolcano eruption at Yellowstone was imminent. 0:51

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    Within 10 minutes of the Yellowstone supervolcano erupting, the states of Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming would be covered in lava. 2:17

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    The eruption of Yellowstone's supervolcano would probably cause America to drop out of global markets, ushering in a depression. 3:17

Loki Patera, Io's Super-Hot Lava Lake

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Loki Patera, Io's Super-Hot Lava Lake

Loki Patera is the biggest volcanic depression on Io, and is shaped somewhat like a horseshoe. Its lava lake is consists of molten lava covered by a periodically overturning crust. The lake has been continuously active since at least 1979, when Voyager 1 conducted its flyby of Jupiter. Io has an estimated 400 active volcanoes on its surface, which cracks and flexes due to the gravity of Jupiter and Europa.

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from BBC

Key Facts to Know

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    Io orbits Jupiter faster than its outer sister moons, Europa and Ganymede. 0:36

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    The largest volcanic eruptions in the solar system occur on Io. 2:52

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    Io's volcanic plumes can reach 500 km (310 mi) above its surface. 3:24

Krakatoa, The Eruption Felt Round The World

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Krakatoa, The Eruption Felt Round The World

The eruption of Krakatoa is thought to be one of the loudest sounds ever recorded on Earth. It was so loud that people reported hearing it in Australia—a distance of about 2,000 miles away from the volcano's location in Indonesia. It created a tsunami with waves more than 30 m (100 ft) high, and killed around 36,000 people. This death toll is disputed, however, and some say that the eruption could have been responsible for more than 100,000 fatalities.

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Key Facts to Know

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    In 2010, a volcanic eruption in Iceland caused a suspension in European air traffic for six days. 0:52

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    After the Krakatoa eruption, global temperatures didn't return to normal for five years. 1:59

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    Floods in China in the early 1900s killed as many as 4 million people. 2:32