<p><strong><a id="ow_0" title="lightning" href="http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/lightning-profile.html">Lightning</a> crackles over <a id="ocvr" title="Japan" href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/japan-guide/">Japan</a> on Friday as ash and lava erupt from Shinmoedake peak, one of the calderas of the Kirishima <a id="o3h5" title="volcano" href="http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/volcano-profile/">volcano</a> complex. <br></strong></p><p>Shinmoedake began erupting Wednesday, coating nearby villages and farms with ash and prompting authorities to ask for voluntary evacuations within a 1.2-mile (2-kilometer) radius.</p><p>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, <a id="gsnf" title="Steve McNutt" href="http://www.aeic.alaska.edu/Input/steve/">Steve McNutt</a> of the Alaska Volcano Observatory told National Geographic News in February 2010.</p><p>(Also see <a id="xse:" title="pictures of volcanic lightning during a recent eruption of an Iceland volcano" href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/04/photogalleries/100419-iceland-volcano-lightning-ash-pictures/">pictures of volcanic lightning during a recent eruption of an Iceland volcano</a>.)</p>

Shocking Display

Lightning crackles over Japan on Friday as ash and lava erupt from Shinmoedake peak, one of the calderas of the Kirishima volcano complex.

Shinmoedake began erupting Wednesday, coating nearby villages and farms with ash and prompting authorities to ask for voluntary evacuations within a 1.2-mile (2-kilometer) radius.

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.

(Also see pictures of volcanic lightning during a recent eruption of an Iceland volcano.)

Photograph by Minami-Nippon Shibun/Reuters

Pictures: Volcano Lightning Electrifies Japan Eruption

A volcano in a James Bond setting flared to life Wednesday, sparking lightning and a huge ash plume as well as prompting evacuations.

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