Fire tornadoes are not the only surprise that nature has in its arsenal of dangerous and exotic weather systems. We here present another similarly fearsome package, this time combining molten lava and electricity: volcano lightning.
Arising from differences in electrical charge due to friction between rock and ice particles and the air, volcano lightning is often concealed within a dense cloud of ash. But more and more photographers (like Martin Rietze who captured the Sakurajima eruption, above) are now managing to catch the elusive phenomenon on film.
Volcano lightning can take any form, including bolt lightning, sheet lightning and even ball lightning, or St Elmo’s fire. During the 1980 eruption of Mt St Helen’s several people reported a mysterious ball of St Elmo’s fire the size of a small car bouncing and rolling on the ground around 25 miles from the volcano. Sounds like a phenomenon Amazing stuff will need to investigate further…