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There are at least two types of volcanic lightning, a new radio-mapping study found. One occurs at the mouth of the volcano, and the other—as shown over Chile's Puyehue-Cordón Caulle volcano complex in 2011—electrifies the heights of the plume, possibly as rising water becomes a mix of droplets and ice-coated ash particles. Photograph by Carlos Gutierrez, Reuters

Volcano lightning

June 15, 2012

A new report revealed that volcanic lightning storms can be as powerful as giant Great Plains thunderstorms and that more lightning means a bigger plume of ash. (National Geographic)