Volcanic Lightning Captured in Incredibly Rare Footage

Bolts of volcanic lightning have been captured coming out of Guatemala's Fuego volcano in extremely rare footage.

The video was shot by mountain tour guide Chino Aventuras, who was leading a group of 15 people up Fuego, an active stratovolcano. Such volcanoes have a conical shape formed by layers of volcanic material deposited during eruptions.

In her video, Aventuras can be seen filming the landscape around the volcano. When the camera pans to the volcano, it is spewing ash from its crater. Suddenly, bright bolts of lightning can be seen emanating from the top of the mountain, and the guide can be heard gasping. "What!" she says. "How crazy was that." After the lightning occurs, a deep rumbling is heard coming from the volcano.

"The lightning was created from the ash of the volcano and the electric storm on top of the volcano. I seen many lightning eruptions, but this was one of the biggest I ever seen in 10 years guiding on this volcano," Aventuras told Newsweek.

Fuego is one of the most active volcanoes in the region and has been erupting frequently since January 2002. It is one of the largest in Central America, with an elevation of 12,362 feet. The volcano, which overlooks the city of Antigua, usually emanates small plumes of gas and ash every 15 to 20 minutes when it's not actively erupting.

Guatemala volcano's lightning
Lightning emanates from the Fuego volcano in Guatemala. Chino Aventuras

Fuego last erupted in December 2022. The eruption began with weak explosions and tall ash clouds towering above the mountain. Lava was flowing over 1,600 feet above the crater.

Between January 4 and 10, the volcano underwent two to eight explosions per hour, and ash plumes rose more than 1.2 kilometers above the crater rim, according to a recent update from Guatemala's National Institute of Seismology, Volcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology.

Volcanic lightning has been documented in around 200 eruptions over the past 200 years. The phenomenon, which lasts for just a split second, is difficult to capture on camera.

Volcanic lightning occurs when various fragmented particles collide, creating static electricity within the plume of ash. When this builds up in the atmosphere, it is released in the form of lightning.

Fuego is known locally as "the Volcano of Fire," and its eruptions are potentially deadly. It is particularly dangerous for people living in the surrounding area since it tends to have highly explosive eruptions.

The volcano produced a particularly deadly eruption in June 2018. Ash from pyroclastic flows rained down on communities and contaminated the water and air quality. About 200 people died during these eruptions.

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