Two of nature's most spectacular forces produced an incredible brew in the skies of Chile as a volcanic eruption met a lightning storm.
Images attributed to Carlos Gutierrez/UPI
These spectacular photographs depicting lightning intermingled with the towering plume from an erupting volcano circulate via email, blogs and social media. The almost otherworldly sight of these two powerful forces of nature clashing with each other has caused some commentators to suggest that the images have been manipulated. However, the photographs are in fact genuine.
The photographs depict an eruption of the Chaiten volcano in Chile in May 2008. The volcano, which was previously dormant for thousands of years, is located around 1300km south of Santiago. An article about the eruption published on the Mail Online website on May 7th 2008 describes the event:
As clouds of toxic ash and dust tower into the sky, they ionise the air, generating an explosive electrical storm. Colossal forks of lightning spark around the noxious plume as it spews from the volcano's crater, creating an image of raw, terrifying energy - as if the air itself were ablaze.
Several thousand residents were evacuated from the area and the plume from the eruption left large areas of land covered in a layer of ash.