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Martin RietzeClick to embiggen.

Did you know that volcanic eruptions can sometimes generate lightning? Well, thanks to spectacular photographs by Martin Rietze, you do now. You may also find that you suddenly have an inkling of where early cultures’ ideas about gods and the underworld came from.

These photos show the eruption of the Sakurajima volcano in Japan, which erupted violently last month, spewing lava bombs, generating more than 20 seconds of lightning, and convincing several easily influenced animals to worship Thor.

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It’s not clear why Zeus blesses certain volcanoes. One guess is that collisions between particles in the eruption generate an electrical charge, which causes the lightning. But nobody really wants to get close enough to investigate further.

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