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When Nature Gets Angry

As if that out-of-nowhere volcanic eruption in Chile wasn't scary enough, now we have volcanic lightning storms to contend with:


Jaw-dropping... Brian Handwerk reports on a recent study in Science that takes a stab at explaining this poorly understood phenomenon: "[S]cientists believe that electric charges are generated when rock fragments, ash, and ice particles in the plume collide to produce static charges."

Anyway, I don't want to relegate all the catastrophe-blogging to one short post, but in related nature-can-be-terrifying news, here's a science-type piece in the Guardian charting the tectonic shudders that ended with that colossal earthquake in China, killing more than 40,000 people. On the other hand, here are two items suggesting that the shoddy craftsmanship of many of the rapidly-erected buildings in China may have been a major contributor to the death toll—that this was as much a manmade disaster as a natural tragedy. 

--Bradford Plumer