World's Fair

A former student sent along these fascinating images. The e-mail said: “Tons of dust and ash from the eruption of the Chaitin volcano poured into the night sky just as an electric storm passed overhead. The resulting collision created a spectacular sight as lightning flickered around the dust cloud amid the orange glow of the volcano. The eruption was all the more spectacular because the Chaitin volcano, 800 miles (1,290km) south of Santiago, has been dormant for hundreds – if not thousands of years.”

Apparently, this happened in May.







(The note didn’t say who took these, so I don’t mean to undermine proper image credit.)


  1. #1 stillwaggon
    September 12, 2008

    Gprgeous photos. It often seems that nature is at her most awesome and beautiful when she’s trying to kill you, e.g., the photo of hurricane Ike from the International Space Station

  2. #2 dominich
    September 12, 2008

    Lots of uncredited versions of these around but finally tracked the credit to:
    Carlos Gutierrez/UPI/Landov


  3. #3 The Volcanism Blog
    September 12, 2008

    These are UPI images, and the photographer was Carlos Gutierrez. The eruption of Chaiten began on 2 May (it’s still going on, by the way) and these pictures were taken during an electrical storm on the evening of 3 May. Volcanic eruptions produce a surfeit of dramatic imagery, but these are a class apart. Lots more here:

  4. #4 Pierce R. Butler
    September 12, 2008

    Tsk, tsk. Somebody must’ve been committing some major sodomy &/or onanism down there, for the gods to wax so wroth…

  5. #5 Pierce R. Butler
    September 12, 2008

    On a slightly less theological basis… Green lightning? Uh, maybe copper in the volcanic plume being oxidized by electrical discharge?

  6. #6 Onkel Bob
    September 12, 2008

    On a slightly less theological basis… Green lightning? Uh, maybe copper in the volcanic plume being oxidized by electrical discharge?

    Just a guess but the green hue is likely the result of the time exposure. I suspect the photographer had the lens stopped down to f22 or smaller and allowed the shutter to be open for a long time. I did that back in the day with film and got the same effect.

  7. #7 arby
    September 12, 2008

    I don’t recall hearing anything about an “electric storm passing overhead” at the time these were first posted, I thought it was as a result of the volcanic activity alone. It’s been a while, I may not be remembering correctly. Volcanoes do create lightning, and this seems to be in, on, and near the plume. I suppose someone posting as Volcanism Blog would know better than I do though. Now I will go look at the link. Amazing shots. rb

  8. #8 arby
    September 12, 2008

    Ah, I remember now, the site is in Spanish, so if it mentions electrical storms I wouldn’t know it. I guess I assumed it was caused by the static from the plume. I remember plowing through these images when I still had dialup. They took forever to load at 28k or less, but I took the time and looked at every one. I imagine I have several of them stashed on the hard drive. Magnificent. rb

  9. #9 Roy Gooderidge
    January 21, 2009

    Looks outstanding to me. I’ve never seen the like before.


New comments have been disabled.