Lightning Photos: Volcanic Eruption Captured By Martin Rietze Shows Sakurajima Volcano Spewing Lava

Martin Rietze, the photographer behind the website Alien Landscapes on Planet Earth, is willing to do whatever it takes to get a great photo -- even if that means inching towards a volcanic explosion while scalding lava spews into the air and lightning strikes from dark clouds above.

Rietze is a "volcano-chaser," according to the Daily Mail, a particular breed of photographer who takes big risks for big shots. He was able to capture destructive and beautiful forces of nature at work on a trip to Japan in February. His photos show the Sakurajima Volcano, an active volcanic who's record-breaking 1914 eruption sent lava flows across the island.

After hours of silence, a lightning storm exploded above the volcano, Rietze notes on his website. During the 20-second storm, where bolts of lightning froze molten lava into dangerous lava bombs, Rietze snapped these fire and brimstone images and made a quick get-away.

"If fitted with a proper gas mask, helmet and protective clothing, you can stand a few dozen feet away from boiling lava lakes. It is an experience you will never forget," Rietze told the Daily Mail in an interview.
The risk paid off. On Monday one of Rietze's photos was picked as NASA's Astronomy Photo of the Day.

Sakurajima Volcano with Lightning

Image Credit & Copyright: Martin Rietze (Alien Landscapes on Planet Earth)

Explanation: Why does a volcanic eruption sometimes create lightning? Pictured above, the Sakurajima volcano in southern Japan was caught erupting in early January. Magma bubbles so hot they glow shoot away as liquid rock bursts through the Earth's surface from below. The above image is particularly notable, however, for the lightning bolts caught near the volcano's summit. Why lightning occurs even in common thunderstorms remains a topic of research, and the cause of volcanic lightning is even less clear. Surely, lightning bolts help quench areas of opposite but separated electric charges. One hypothesis holds that catapulting magma bubbles or volcanic ash are themselves electrically charged, and by their motion create these separated areas. Other volcanic lightning episodes may be facilitated by charge-inducing collisions in volcanic dust. Lightning is usually occurring somewhere on Earth, typically over 40 times each second.

Responses to "Photographer Captures Incredible Lightning Storm Above Volcanic Eruption "

  1. Those are amazing!!!

  2. WOW --These photos are fantastic..

  3. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful and amazing

  4. Unknown says:


  5. Anonymous says:

    OH-MY-GOD, those are BEAUTIFUL! Totally mystic in appearance, just lovely. Wow - incredible to see, thank you for sharing these fantastic, amazing pictures! I love them! Totally unexpected, just, "Shazam!" Wow. Just freaking love it. Thank you!

  6. Anonymous says:

    It's magnificent, and beautiful but scary at the same time. It's just Natural in it's awe!

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