Endangered Earth
Iceland Volcano Eruption 2010
Iceland Volcano Pictures: Lightning Adds Flash to Ash
April 18, 2010
Photo: By Sigurdr H. Stefnisson  - National Geographic - SOURCE
Volcano Lightning, Iceland. Lightning cracks during an eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano in 2010. Intense lightning storms mixed with ash clouds to electrify the night sky over Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano on Sunday.
Photograph by Peter Vancoillie, Your Shot - SOURCE
White-Hot Show at Iceland Volcano. A blast of white-hot lightning crackles over Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano on Sunday. Clouds of volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajökull have snarled European air traffic for nearly a week. National Geographic Your Shot submitter Peter Vancoillie took the photograph from about 18 miles (30 kilometers) away from the volcanic lightning storm, which not "unlike a regular old thunderstorm," said Martin Uman, a lightning expert at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The same ingredients are present: water droplets, ice, and possibly hail—all interacting with each other and with particles, in this case ash from the eruptions, to cause electrical charging, Uman said. (See pictures of the Iceland volcano's ash plume.) The volcanic-lightning pictures are "really very sensational," Uman said. "Somebody ought to be up there with an HD movie camera—it's ready for the IMAX theater." - Credit: Christine Dell'Amore
Photograph by Marco Fulle, Barcroft/Fame Pictures - SOURCE
Purple Bolts at Iceland Volcano. Italian photographer and scientist Marco Fulle flew at sunset on Sunday over Iceland's erupting Eyjafjallajökull volcano to capture this picture of purple lightning bolts streaking through the sky.Much of the lightning generated by the Iceland volcano is better termed long sparks, said the University of Florida's Uman. Those may include a new type of lightning recently found over an Alaska volcano. It's unknown how such sparks form, though one possibility is that electrically charged silica—an ingredient of magma—interacts with the atmosphere when it bursts out of Earth's crust, Steve McNutt of the Alaska Volcano Observatory said in February.(Related: "Iceland Volcano Pictures: Aerial Views of the Inferno.")
Photograph by  Rakel Orvar Atli Thorge, NordicPhotos/Getty Images - SOURCE
Fire, Ice, and Lightning. Fiery lava mixes with blue ash and golden lightning over the erupting Eyjafjallajökull volcano in an April 18, 2010, picture. The Iceland volcano's lightning is probably creating distinct symphony of sounds, said the University of Florida's Uman. For instance, small sparks of about 30 feet (9 meters) to about 300 yards (91 meters) make sounds like rifle shots, while the miles-long bolts produce the deep, familiar rumbling we associate with thunderstorms, he explained.(Also see Pictures: Iceland Volcano Erupts, Under Ice This Time.)

Photograph by Marco Fulle, Barcroft/Fame Pictures - SOURCE
Stormy Mix at Iceland Volcano. Pictured Sunday, lightning at the Eyjafjallajökull volcano branches off in many directions—an interesting phenomenon, according to the University of Florida's Uman. Every bolt has a direction that it travels, Uman explained: A spark begins in electrically charged spot and then travels either up, down, or sideways until it reaches an oppositely charged area. (Related: "Iceland Volcano Pictures: Lava Explodes From Ice Cap.")

Photograph by Oli Haukur Myrdal, Your Shot - SOURCE
Lava and Lightning in Iceland. Spurts of lava mix with lightning over Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano on Sunday. National Geographic Your Shot submitter Oli Haukur Myrdal captured the electrifying light show. All types of lightning, particularly volcanic lightning, are still largely mysteries to scientists, University of Florida's Uman said. Since people can't easily get inside thunder and lightning storms, no one knows exactly how they form, he said. However, scientists can install instruments near volcanoes' vents to measure certain data, such as the lightning-detection devices that scientists are installing right now in Iceland, he said. (Related: "Iceland Volcano Pictures: Eruption Sparks Tourist Boom.")

Photograph by Olivier Vandeginste, Your Shot - SOURCE
Flash and Ash at Volcano. Lightning pierces the erupting volcano's ash cloud in a National Geographic Your Shot photograph taken by Olivier Vandeginste on Sunday. Inhaling the tiny pieces of glassy sand and dust in the cloud can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, say experts who advise Europeans to stay indoors when the ash begins to fall. Finer particles can also penetrate deep into the lungs and cause breathing problems, particularly among those with respiratory issues like asthma or emphysema. (See "Iceland Volcano Ash Plume Prompts Health Worries.") But if people could witness the volcanic lightning safely, it would be an incredible experience, Uman said. "Everyone would want to see that," Uman said. "It's like going to see aurora borealis near the North Pole—it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience." (Also see "Photos: Chile Volcano Erupts With Ash and Lightning.")
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