Volcanic lightning pictured above mount Shinmoedake as it erupts

Volcanic lightning or a dirty thunderstorm is seen above Mount Shinmoedake in Japan as it erupts. The above photo was taken in a long exposure shot from Kirishima city and released by Minami-Nippon Shimbun January 28, 2011.

Shinmoedake began erupting Wednesday, coating nearby villages and farms with ash and prompting authorities to raise alert levels and call on for an evacuation of all residents within a 2 km (1.2 miles) radius.

It is still mystery why bolts of lightning are sometimes seen within erupting volcanoes. One theory is that that the spewing magma bubbles or particles of volcanic ash are themselves electrically charged, and by their motion create separately charged areas...

Shinmoedake peak erupts, as seen from Takaharu Town Office, Miyazaki prefecture January 27, 2011, early morning.

Another theory is that lightning may be caused by charge-inducing collisions in volcanic dust. The phenomenon has been photographed recently in several volcanic eruptions, from Iceland to Indonesia.

The site also featured in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice.

More reading and photos at Telegraph

Photos from Reuters

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