Photo captures Mount Etna eruption creating rare volcanic lightning

A particularly powerful eruption of Mount Etna has created a volcanic storm that sent bolts of lightning dramatically across the sky over eastern Sicily.

A volcano expert with Italy’s National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology said Friday that such volcanic storms are rare but can happen in particularly violent eruptions or with volcanoes located near the sea.

A volcanic thunderstorm over Mt. Etna, Sicily, Italy, generates volcanic lightning during an eruption, February 11, 2022.
Emilio Messina/AP

The volcanologist, Boris Behnke, told The Associated Press that volcanic lightning was observed once over Etna in 2021, and before that, in 2015.

The eruption shortly before midnight Thursday didn’t cause any damage. But it did shoot ash more than 6 miles into the air above sea level.

Etna is one of Europe’s most active volcanoes, and its eruptions aren’t infrequent. It is the largest of Italy’s three active volcanoes.

Etna erupted last June, releasing ash and orange lava into the air. The eruption lasted for a few hours and caused dust to rain on nearby towns. Etna also erupted in October, sending a massive plume of ash rising above the volcano.

Smoke billows from the Mt. Etna volcano, as seen from Nicolosi, Sicily, southern Italy, February 10, 2022.
Salvatore Allegra/AP

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