By César Cantú

The Colima volcano in Mexico is active again, and has been spewing out large plumes of ash nearly 3 kilometers into the air. Astrophotographer César Cantú captured this spectacular picture of lightning slicing through the cloud of ash.

How can lightning strike in an ash cloud? Through friction, particles of the ash can charge each other by rubbing against each other during the eruption. When the energy is discharged, it can create lightning bolts. The Colima volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Mexico, and is also called ‘Volcán de Fuego’ or ‘Fire volcano.’ It has erupted more than 40 times since the first documented eruption in 1576.

The latest news on this current eruption is that local authorities have put the volcano on a yellow alert, meaning the volcano is showing increased activity, and residents who live nearby should prepare for a possible evacuation. See a larger version on his website here. And scroll below to see some more amazing pictures of volcanic lightning from previous years.

This incredible image was taken over Chaiten volcano. WikiMedia

There are few phenomenon on Earth as terrifying, devastating, and interesting as volcanic eruptions. Massive amounts of rock and ash soar high into the atmosphere as the Earth’s crust opens and the great forces present within the mantle are released.  Volcanic eruptions are one of the most energetic events on the planet; only a few other natural events can compare – lightning being one of them.

Lightning makes an appearance over Eyjafjallajökull volcano (Credit: Marco Fulle)

Hat tip to Universe Today.

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