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Watch: Stunning Photos Capture Exact Moment Lightning Strikes Volcanic Ash Cloud in Japan

Photo: Twitter/ shuajo
@joshibob_

Photo: Twitter/ shuajo @joshibob_

Japan’s Sakurajima volcano recently erupted. While lava spewed out of the volcano’s mouth, plumes of ash rose more than a mile above the volcano’s surface. As the ash rose, a lightning storm formed above the surface.

A volcano in Japan has been mesmerising the local population because of its ethereal beauty.

Japan’s Sakurajima volcano recently erupted. While lava spewed out of the volcano’s mouth, plumes of ash rose more than a mile above the volcano’s surface. As the ash rose, a lightning storm formed above the surface. What resulted was a phenomenal dance of nature with some amazingly mesmerising photographs. Villagers on the island gathered around to view the spectre ahead of them.

Local reports said the eruption took place at the Minamidake crater of the Sakurajima volcano. The dark dense plumes are believed to have rose up 3,000 metres and could be seen from a faroff distance.

According to the New York Post, a Reuters photographer has been keen on capturing this phenomenon for a while. The Sakurajima volcano range is one of the world’s most active volcano sites. Especially combined with the lightning storm, the eruptions are considered to be one of the most powerful clashes in nature.

When lightning appears to be striking down onto the volcano or even on its mouth, it is known as volcanic lightning. Though many have studied this phenomenon for years, there is a lot still to be explored about what causes this spectacular phenomenon or why. The reason for a lack of study is quite obvious; it’s really dangerous to be around a live, active volcano especially during an eruption.

Luckily, the Sakurajima volcanic eruption has remained a thing of beauty and not caused any damage to life and property in the communities nearest to the volcano. There have been instances in the past when such volcanic eruptions have caused major damage to life and property.

There are different theories and studies around volcanoes and volcanic lightning. According to one scientific theory, static electricity might have a role to play in the process. When the particles of the eruption collide with one another in billowing smoke clouds, they might provoke a bolt of energy. Sort of how rubbing a balloon over woollen garments produces a slight static charge but on a much, much larger scale.

This process is felt in the form of static jolts. As the static charges rise, they may give rise to lightning. As you may know, lightning is nothing but an electric discharge between the charged-up clouds and the ground and results in a bolt of lightning in the atmosphere.

According to a study, led by German volcano expert Corrado Cimarelli, ash particles are responsible for lightning at Sakurajima.

Another possible explanation for the phenomenon is that when ice crystals bounce around in the stratosphere, they can rub against the volcanic ash rising high in the sky. As ash, water vapour, and other debris collide, they can cause a physical reaction. This again is very similar to how normal lightning strikes occur.

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first published:December 20, 2020, 11:07 IST