Rare Volcanic Lightning Captured Shooting out of a Mountain

A tourist guide captured lightning shooting out of a volcano, a rare phenomenon known as a dirty thunderstorm that’s generated from a volcanic plume.

Mountain guide Chino Adventuras captured the rare footage near the summit of Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala.

“I’ve never seen something like this in 10 years guiding on these volcanoes,” she tells PetaPixel.

In the video, the German-speaking tour guide is filming a different part of the landscape when some shouting comes from a group of explorers nearby. As she spins the camera around, the volcanic plume discharges multiple lightning bolts provoking gasps of amazement from the crowd.

“I was guiding a group of tourists and just arrived at the viewpoint which is the ridge of Volcán de Fuego at 12,303 feet (3,570 meters),” she says.

“The eruption got in touch with the electrical storm that was on top of Volcán de Fuego. So this is how the lighting was created.”

Dirty thunderstorms occur when ash, rock, and other “ejecta” collide and create static electricity in the plume of volcanic eruptions. Researchers estimate that about 35% of volcanic eruptions are accompanied by lightning.

The video was reposted to the Nature is Metal Instagram page which explains: “When a volcano blows its top, it sends hot rocks, ash, and gas high up in the sky. Sometimes, all that ash and rock rub together, creating static electricity – just like when you rub a balloon on your clothes and it sticks to the wall.

“When the electrical charge is big enough, it discharges and creates a lightning bolt, just like the ones you see during thunderstorms. But instead of coming from clouds, it’s actually coming from the volcano.

“It’s very cool to look at but can also be dangerous for people and animals in the surrounding area.”

Picturing a Lightning Storm

Back in 2018, PetaPixel spotlighted photographer Francisco Negroni who has spent years pointing his camera at volcanic eruptions. Over time, he has captured a series of incredible photos showing the lightning of “dirty thunderstorms” in massive volcanic plumes.