Mount Etna's eruption on December 3, 2015 was powerful enough to produce volcanic lightning (Marco Restivo/Demotix/Corbis)
Mount Etna in early November, 2015, with some smoke visible that heralded the December eruption. (Marco Restivo/Demotix/Corbis)
The lava fountain reached up to a mile in the air. (Marco Restivo/Demotix/Corbis)
Plumes of ash and dust rose as high as 10,000 feet in the air. (Marco Restivo/Demotix/Corbis)
The eruption was Mount Etna's first in two years. (Marco Restivo/Demotix/Corbis)
Momotombo in Nicaragua also erupted this week, here just the ash and smoke is visible, but lava spewed from the volcano during the eruption (JOHN BUSTOS/Xinhua Press/Corbis)

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Watch Mount Etna and Momotombo Erupt in All Their Glory

Photos and video catch the spectacular events in action

smithsonian.com

Sicily’s Mount Etna is one of the most active volcano’s in the world, and its eruptions are awe-inspiring. Early morning Wednesday, Mount Etna once again rumbled awake to belch out a stunning display of ash, smoke and lava, reports Eric Holthaus for Slate.

This hour-long eruption was especially photogenic, with bright forks of lightening flickering and flashing amid the dramatic column of ash and smoke. "[M]eteorologists theorize that the ash particles rub together (much like a balloon rubbed on your head) to create the electrical charges over the volcano," writes Holthaus.

A time-lapse video from Barcroft TV shows the eruption and streaks of lightning. Happily, the spectacle can be enjoyed without worry: No injuries were reported.

The eruption is Mount Etna’s first in two years and it was powerful. It beat out the volcano’s eruptions for the past two decades, reports Angela Fritz for The Washington Post. The ash streamed up to 10,000 feet in the sky and the lava fountain spewed up to nearly a mile.

Volcanic lightning only occurs with the most intense eruptions and usually just at the start of the eruption, Fritz explained for another Japanese volcanic eruption earlier this year.

Mount Etna wasn’t the only volcano putting on a display this week. Guatamala’s Fuego volcano produced several large lava flows. In Nicaragua, Momotombo erupted for the first time since 1905. Like Etna, Momotombo produced a Strombolian eruption, meaning short-lived, explosive outbursts of lava and little to no flowing lava. 

Momotombo used to be one of Nicaragua’s most active volcanos, reports Erik Klemetti for Wired, and even destroyed the region's capital in 1605.

For the most recent eruption, no one reported any injuries, though schools were closed as a precaution. A live view of the volcano shows that Momotombo once again fell quiet, but residents are likely keeping an eye on the formerly sleeping giant in their backyard.

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