The Anak Krakatau volcano, infamous for its extreme eruptions, is launching lava bombs and generating its own lightning this month, which was recently captured on video by a scientist from a nearby island.
“Probably due to a change in ash characteristics, eruptions were suddenly accompanied by numerous static discharges, also known as volcanic lightning,” Richard Roscoe wrote on YouTube. “In the first sequence, glowing volcanic bombs can be seen setting fire to vegetation and causes large splashes as they fall into the sea around the Anak Krakatau Island.”
Volcanic lightning has only recently been studied and understood. Lightning in eruptions is similar to that of thunderstorms — negative and positive charges separate in the atmosphere, and the strike of lightning restores the charges to balance. In thunderstorms, ice crystals are the particles that electrified. But why the charge separation occurs in volcanic eruptions has not been well understood. Researchers have determined ice can play a role in very large eruptions, but the charge created by ash alone is enough to trigger a strike.
As we’ve written here before, Anak Krakatau is only a century old, nothing but a speck on Earth’s timeline. But it’s already become one of the most-watched volcanoes in the world because of its incredible eruptions. The volcano also happens to be the direct descendant, so to speak, of the infamous Krakatoa (also known as Krakatau), which killed thousands of people in its historic 1883 eruption. That eruption nearly destroyed the volcano entirely. What spawned from the ash and debris was a new volcano, given the name Anak Krakatau, or “child of Krakatoa.” It rose up from the ocean in 1927 and has been active since then.