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Early in the morning of March 3rd, the Villarrica volcano erupted in Chile, forcing thousands of residents and tourists to flee from the city of Pucón. Images of the eruption show a towering lava fountain glowing against the dark backdrop of the pre-dawn sky. One image, distributed by the Associated Press shows something even stranger: lightning, arcing through the cloud of ash.

The weird appearance of lightning during volcanic eruptions has been documented for some time now, but until recently, scientists weren't sure what caused the lightning bolts to appear. They were pretty sure it had something to do with the particles of ash from the eruption getting an electric charge as they spewed out of the volcano, but nobody could figure out how the charge got there.

Scientists found that particles of ash manage to charge each other through friction, just rubbing against each other during the 'eruption'.

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current01:41, March 26, 2015Thumbnail for version as of 01:41, March 26, 2015960 × 720 (102 KB)Tejrinde Shahrizai (wall | contribs)

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