After two years of dormancy, Italy’s Mount Etna put on a spectacular show on December 10, 2015.
The amazing eruption began around 3:20 a.m. local time, sending a lava fountain more than 3,000 feet into the air and coating nearby villages in a layer of ash.
Although the eruption forced the closure of the nearby Reggio Calabria airport, there are no reports of damage or injuries.
The eruption also produced a breathtaking phenomenon known as a dirty thunderstorm, which occurs when lightning appears in the sky directly above an erupting volcano.
Scientists believe the dramatic lighting that accompanies certain eruptions is the result of positively charged particles that are ejected from the volcano.
A second type of volcanic lighting has been observed to form downwind of the ash plume, but that “plume lighting” is not well-understood.