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Now even though these definitely are not true tornadoes by any means, a very interesting type of volcanic vortex is pyroclastic surge vortices. These have been only studied once, during the 1951 Mt Lamington eruption. They seem to be generated by extreme turbulence within the surge and travel outwards creating streaks of intense damage. These vortices were likely responsible for unusually intense damage within a village downstream of the volcano. Here buildings were completely swept away with debris being scattered for a wide area, a steel-framed hospital was leveled and a car was lofted into the top of a tree.


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I think something similar to this happened in the 1815 Tambora eruption.
 
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I should've put more in my reply, this comment of yours was what I was thinking of:



Yeah it's hard to know for sure what happen but I think stuff like this is more common than previously thought (like pyrotornadoes).
 

MNTornadoGuy

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I should've put more in my reply, this comment of yours was what I was thinking of:



Yeah it's hard to know for sure what happen but I think stuff like this is more common than previously thought (like pyrotornadoes).
It probably is common in large pyroclastic surges but since damage surveys of surges are rare, they are not well-documented at all.
 

bjdeming

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This isn't one of the biggies, and in fact, the phenomenon has been observed when Kilauea's lava was entering the sea (and probably elsewhere at various volcanoes), but it's cool that pioneering volcanologist Frank Perret snapped a shot (with his trusty folding 3A or 2C Kodak pocket camera) of what he called a "spiracle" during Sakurajima's big 1914 eruption in Japan that joined the island volcano out in Kagoshima Bay to land.

As he was an electrical engineer at heart, in addition to knowing physics, his caption links the vortice to clouds above through electricity, though I don't know how well that idea has held up over time. He, and some other scientific and soldierly lunatics did walk twice through an eruption plume at Vesuvius that was electrically charged and drawn to the ground (the guy had worked with Edison, as well as inventing various types of electrical machinery and a few electric cars, so I trust his description of that very dangerous hike, though I haven't come across anything recent about this -- just some things about volcanic lightning).

He also describes second-hand reports of vortices at Vesuvius in 1906 (that was a really big eruption, too). These were on land, on very hot debris avalanche fields, not associated with the "electric plume."
 
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MNTornadoGuy

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This isn't one of the biggies, and in fact, the phenomenon has been observed when Kilauea's lava was entering the sea (and probably elsewhere at various volcanoes), but it's cool that pioneering volcanologist Frank Perret snapped a shot (with his trusty folding 3A or 2C Kodak pocket camera) of what he called a "spiracle" during Sakurajima's big 1914 eruption in Japan that joined the island volcano out in Kagoshima Bay to land.

As he was an electrical engineer at heart, in addition to knowing physics, his caption links the vortice to clouds above through electricity, though I don't know how well that idea has held up over time. He, and some other scientific and soldierly lunatics did walk twice through an eruption plume at Vesuvius that was electrically charged and drawn to the ground (the guy had worked with Edison, as well as inventing various types of electrical machinery and a few electric cars, so I trust his description of that very dangerous hike, though I haven't come across anything recent about this -- just some things about volcanic lightning).

He also describes second-hand reports of vortices at Vesuvius in 1906 (that was a really big eruption, too). These were on land, on very hot debris avalanche fields, not associated with the "electric plume."
Electricity was commonly said to be essential with the formation of tornadoes/atmospheric vortices back then but that has been proven wrong.
 

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An eyewitness report of vortices over flowing lava in Iceland and their observed cause -- hope they dig out the pix. This one was seen at the ongoing eruption at Fagradalsfjall last week at a time when the lava was very "gassy" (fountaining, lots of bubbles, and high SO2 output):


There's better video of one here (article is in Icelandic, but the video is stunning).
 

Tennie

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An eyewitness report of vortices over flowing lava in Iceland and their observed cause -- hope they dig out the pix. This one was seen at the ongoing eruption at Fagradalsfjall last week at a time when the lava was very "gassy" (fountaining, lots of bubbles, and high SO2 output):


There's better video of one here (article is in Icelandic, but the video is stunning).

Here's an image of one that I found elsewhere as well:

spout.jpg
 

Tennie

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Sorry for the double post, but here's an article that I just found about this very topic:

 

bjdeming

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And waterspouts when heated water upwells in the crater lake on Volcano Island at Taal, in the Philippines -- but only when the air is cool/rainy :

 

bjdeming

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Tweeted about seven hours ago from the ongoing eruption on Iceland's Reykjanes Peninsula. Beautiful blacklighting, too.



Don't have details, but this probably occurred after a high-volume lava surge began there recently. Satellites picked up a strong (for this eruption) SO2 surge and there was probably other strong degassing happening, too (this stuff is coming straight up from the mantle, reportedly) -- all that may have contributed.

Sure is pretty.
 

bjdeming

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Anyone else seeing dark vortices occasionally roll in front of the lava fountains at Cumbre Vieja right now? (Don't know how to capture the video segments.)

Well, the feed just went down, so I deleted the embed; sounded like it was starting to rain.

I saw many "funnel clouds", and I swear, two "stove-pipes," which was what brought me here. Not much after that, but here are screen captures -- not of the stove-pipes, unfortunately.

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bjdeming

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Thanks for the like; I really felt like an idiot, because it wasn't reported in the news. The Reuters stream isn't live now, but I'll embed the video. On rewatching the video, what I was talking about starts at around 2:27:55, but there are "funnel clouds" as early as 2:18:33. The vorticity seemed to wax and wane.

  • Online lookup of weather condition on this small Atlantic island just off Africa's northwestern coast: light rain. I didn't note the wind direction/speed temperature, but everybody in videos earlier that day was in short sleeves.
  • Two active fissures, eight vents at that point, in this configuration. Sometimes one of the larger fountains would angle off to the right.
  • Open to the sea on that flank: no adjacent facing land mass. Behind the vents, though, towers the massive rest of the volcano. This eruption apparently is on a low-lying ridge.


Edit: After seeing these pictures in The Atlantic, and with these graphics (text in Spanish), it would be a little surprising if there weren't vortices near such a tumultuous convection column!)
 
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