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The fine ash injected by a volcanic eruption into the stratosphere can be carried by winds all over the world. Sulfur dioxide spewed from volcanoes can react in the atmosphere to form sulfate aerosols (aerosols are tiny particles suspended in the air). Both ash and aerosols can scatter the sun's rays, giving a sunset its apparent color.
It could be the scene from a movie: huge plumes of ash and gas rising during a ferocious volcanic eruption, sparking off a dazzling lightning storm; lightning bolts thundering to life inside and out of the hot cloud. However, this is the reality down on the ground for the people living near the Chaiten Volcano, southern Chile, who have been evacuated since the volcano erupted on Friday. Activity continues to increase, producing these terrifying, yet mesmerizing scenes…