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Electrifying Images of Volcano Lightning

Jagged lines of lightning electrify the ash plume
Photographer Olivier Vandeginste captured images of the wild lightning within the ash plume of the Icelandic volcano from a distance of about 15 miles (25 km) from the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic craters. "Truly a wonderful experience to see the lightning crawl around the lava eruption. A pity we couldn't get any closer," Vandeginste said.
(Image: © Olivier Vandeginste)

Electrifying Images of Volcano Lightning

Huge bolts of lightning are being generated

(Image credit: Olivier Vandeginste)

Photographer Olivier Vandeginste captured images of the wild lightning within the ash plume of the Icelandic volcano from a distance of about 15 miles (25 km) from the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic craters. "Truly a wonderful experience to see the lightning crawl around the lava eruption. A pity we couldn't get any closer," Vandeginste said.

Electrifying Images of Volcano Lightning

Huge bolts of lightning are being generated

(Image credit: Olivier Vandeginste)

Plumes that shoot from the mouths of erupting volcanoes can produce sheaths of lightning. While lightning is associated with thunderstorms, hurricanes and other severe weather, a volcano's roiling clouds of debris can also produce them.

Electrifying Images of Volcano Lightning

Lightning in the ash plume

(Image credit: Olivier Vandeginste)

Lightning in the ash plume of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano.

Electrifying Images of Volcano Lightning

Lightning in the ash plume

(Image credit: Olivier Vandeginste)

As a plume rotates, it can spawn waterspouts or dust devils and group together the electric charges in the plume to form a sheath of lightning.

Electrifying Images of Volcano Lightning

Inside the plumes that generate the lightning

(Image credit: Olivier Vandeginste)

Volcano lightning may be generated in a similar way to that in normal thunderstorms in a process called "dirty thunderstorms." In a normal thunderstorm, ice particles rub together to generate an electrical charge; in the case of a volcano, rock fragments, ash and ice may all rub together to produce this charge.

Electrifying Images of Volcano Lightning

Thunderstorm

(Image credit: Olivier Vandeginste)

Volcano lightning may be generated in a similar way to that in normal thunderstorms in a process called "dirty thunderstorms." In a normal thunderstorm, ice particles rub together to generate an electrical charge; in the case of a volcano, rock fragments, ash and ice may all rub together to produce this charge.

Electrifying Images of Volcano Lightning

Jagged lines of lightning

(Image credit: Olivier Vandeginste)

Jagged lines of lightning electrify the ash plume billowing from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland.