This week Sicily’s Mount Etna erupted for the first time in two years with a dazzling display of volcanic lightning. Forbes magazine explains:
The eruption sent lava up to 1 km (0.6 miles) shooting into the sky and an ash plume 3 km (1.9 miles) into the sky. On top of the spectacular display of molten rock and volcanic ash, volcanic lightning surrounded the ash plume. The volcanic lightning, also called a dirty thunderstorm, is produced as the volcanic ash builds up electric charge by rubbing against other particles. This combination produces a charge imbalance that results in lightning strikes in areas of dense ash.