A commercially-available lightning-detection system was temporarily deployed near Cook Inlet, Alaska in an attempt to remotely monitor volcanogenic lightning associated with eruptions of Redoubt Volcano. The system became operational on February 14, 1990; lightning was detected in 11 and located in 9 of the 13 subsequent eruptions. The lightning was generated by ash clouds rising from pyroclastic density currents produced by collapse of a lava dome emplaced near Redoubt's summit. Lightning discharge (flash) location was controlled by topography, which channeled the density currents, and by wind direction. In individual eruptions, early flashes tended to have a negative polarity (negative charge is lowered to ground) while late flashes tended to have a positive polarity (positive charge is lowered to ground), perhaps because the charge-separation process caused coarse, rapid-settling particles to be negatively charged and fine, slow-settling particles to be positively charged. Results indicate that lightning detection and location is a useful adjunct to seismic volcano monitoring, particularly when poor weather or darkness prevents visual observation. The simultaneity of seismicity and lightning near a volcano provides the virtual certainty that an ash cloud is present. This information is crucial for aircraft safety and to warn threatened communities of impending tephra falls. The Alaska Volcano Observatory has now deployed a permanent lightning-detection network around Cook Inlet. ?? 1994.
Additional publication details
An experiment to detect and locate lightning associated with eruptions of Redoubt Volcano