Measurements of electric charge distribution in volcanic plumes at Sakurajima Volcano, Japan
- Cite this article as:
- Miura, T., Koyaguchi, T. & Tanaka, Y. Bull Volcanol (2002) 64: 75. doi:10.1007/s00445-001-0182-1
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Measurements of perturbations in the atmospheric potential gradient around volcanic plumes at multiple (from two to five) sites, and measurements of the charge–mass ratio of ash particles falling from volcanic plumes, were carried out at Sakurajima Volcano, Japan. Results from 28 and 29 October 1995, show that the nature of the perturbations depends on the intensity of plume activity. Although plume activity was vigorous on 28 October, negative perturbations were predominant. As plume activity peaked, the magnitude of negative perturbations decreased just below the plume and increased at an off-axis site. During the peak period, positively charged ash particles fell out from the plume. This suggests that the active plume dominantly contained negatively charged materials, and that positively and negatively charged materials were added to the lower and upper parts of the plume, respectively, during the peak period. On the other hand, as plume activity became less vigorous on 29 October, the perturbations were characterized by a positive anomaly followed by a negative anomaly. Because wind velocity increased with altitude that day, we infer that positive and negative charges were distributed in the upper and lower parts of the plume, respectively. The differences in perturbations observed on 28 and 29 October suggest that volcanic plumes are generally composed of three parts: an upper part with positively charged gas and aerosol, a middle part with negatively charged fine ash particles, and a lower part with positively charged coarse ash particles. The compilation of present and previous results from Sakurajima and other volcanoes indicates that the effect of the negative charge in the middle part was predominant in most cases, although positive perturbations caused by the upper part were observed around some weak plumes. The effect of positively charged particles in the lower part was observable only when plume activity was sufficiently strong because positively charged coarse particles tended to fall out near the vent.