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Volcanic Lightning


Photo: Carlos Gutierrez/Reuters

It looks like a scene straight out of the movies, but that volcanic lightning is quite real. Photographer Carlos Gutierrez took this amazing photo of lightning bolts over the plume of Chile's Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano in 2011:

The water and frozen-ash particles, said [volcano seismologist Steve McNut]t—who's found volcanic plumes to be surprisingly water rich—rub against each other. As with shuffling shoes on carpet, the contact produces static charges. "That's what happens in ordinary thunderstorms" too, McNutt said.

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