On Friday evening just before 7 pm, Sakurajima, an active volcano located in Kagoshima Prefecture, erupted in a shower of lava and volcanic ash that triggered spectacular displays of lightning.
No injuries were reported in relation to the volcanic activity that occurred at 6:56 pm, Japan Standard Time. The Japan Meteorological Agency raised the alert level around the volcano from 2 to 3 (on a 5-point scale). Although the eruption was impressive, a volcanologist quoted by NHK said that it was “average” in relation to recent eruptions – 700, in fact, between January and September in 2015.
Sakurajima, which was an island until 1914 when lava flow from a large eruption connected it to the mainland, is located some 50 kilometers from the recently reactivated Sendai nuclear power plant. but a Kyushu Electric Power Co. spokesman said that operations had not been affected by the blast.
You can see a clip of Sakurajima’s eruption below. It is hypothesized that the volcanic lightning (火山雷, kazan rai in Japanese, but also given the less poetic name “dirty thunderstorm”) that you can see in the video is generated by supercharged volcanic particles, magma, and ash.
Main Image: Screen capture from NHK