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Lightning crackles over Japan on Friday as ash and lava erupt from Shinmoedake peak, one of the calderas of the Kirishima volcano complex.
Volcanic lightning is still a mystery, though it may be that electrically charged silica—part of magma—interacts with the atmosphere when it flies out of a volcano, Steve McNutt of the Alaska Volcano Observatory told National Geographic News in February 2010.
A "tentacle" of lightning stretches over Japan in a long-exposure picture taken Thursday of the ash plume rising from the Kirishima volcano complex
Kirishima is a grouping of about 20 volcanic peaks on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu (map). The site featured in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, serving as the secret base of the main villain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
A man in the town of Takaharu snaps a picture Thursday of ash rising from Japan's Shinmoedake peak, about 7 miles (11 kilometers) away. The town hosts an evacuation center for people who left villages closer to the peak that were littered with volcanic debris.
A blast of white-hot lightning crackles over Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano on Sunday. Clouds of volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajökull have snarled European air traffic for nearly a week.