Stunning Photos of Volcanic Lightning

Martin Rietze is a “volcano-chaser”, a particular breed of photographer who takes big risks for big shots. He was able to capture destructive and beautiful forces of nature at work on a trip to Japan in February 2013. His photos show the Sakurajima Volcano, an active volcanic who's record-breaking 1914 eruption sent lava flows across the island.

After hours of silence, a lightning storm exploded above the volcano, Rietze notes on his website. During the 20-second storm, where bolts of lightning froze molten lava into dangerous lava bombs, Rietze snapped these fire and brimstone images and made a quick get-away.

“If fitted with a proper gas mask, helmet and protective clothing, you can stand a few dozen feet away from boiling lava lakes. It is an experience you will never forget”, Rietze told in an interview.

Sakurajima Volcano in Japan. These lightstorm images were caught up close by photographer Martin Rietze who hunts out this exploding phemomena in active volcanoes across the world. (Photo by Martin Rietze/Guzelian)

The dangers of getting up close to Earth’s greatest fiery spectacles don’t phase Rietze, who likens his profession to an extreme sport. “I have had fewer mishaps chasing eruptions than when mountain climbing”. (Photo by Martin Rietze/Guzelian)

These flows are currents of hot gas and rock that reach temperatures of 1,000C and travel up to 500mph. However, “red volcanoes” create meandering lava flows and pyrotechnic displays that can be viewed from relatively nearby. The magma wells up to form new land in the sea, such as Kilauea on Hawaii. “Here it is possible to have virtual contact with the volcano,” Rietze said. (Photo by Martin Rietze/Guzelian)

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