Volcanology: No Thundercloud Needed

The hot plumes of steam and ash that rise from many volcanoes are often shot through with brilliant lightning flashes. But these violent bursts of electricity are usually blamed on conventional thunderclouds pushed up by the heat of the eruption. Curious to learn whether a volcano can make its own lightning, without "thunderclouds, a team of U.S. and Icelandic scientists studied the volcano that is forming the new island of Surtsey off the coast of Iceland. In Science, they report that they rode a fishing boat to within 250 yds. of the roaring vent, and flew in an airplane...

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