The Year in Volcanic Activity

2011 was a volatile year for volcanic activity, with eruptions taking place all around the world, from Japan, Chile and Argentina, to Indonesia, Iceland, and Italy. Most recently, the volcano Nyamulagira in the Democratic Republic of Congo blew off some steam. While the steam, ash, toxic gases, and lava can cause terror for people living in nearby — never mind the effects on the global climate — volcanic activity makes for dramatic images. The Atlantic’s In Focus photo blog assembled a series of the best volcano-related photos from the past year, and some of the images are nothing short of breathtaking.

Check out the full series of photos here.

(via The Atlantic)

Photos, left to right:

1. A man walks as the Tungurahua Volcano (background) spews ash, in Cotalo, Ecuador, on November 29, 2011. Ecuador’s Tungurahua volcano spewed red-hot rock and ash as officials upgraded their eruption warning level to orange and some at-risk communities began evacuations. (Pablo Cozzaglio/AFP/Getty Images) 

2. Lava pours from from a fissure just after daybreak and cascades out of sight into a deep crack near the town of Volcano, Hawaii, on March 6, 2011. Scientists monitored a new vent that has opened at the Kilauea volcano, sending lava shooting up to 65 feet high.(AP Photo/US Geological Survey)

3. An aerial view of the ash plume from an eruption in the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain near Osorno city in south-central Chile, on June 5, 2011. Picture taken through an airplane window. (Reuters/Ivan Alvarado)

4. Hudson volcano, seen during a flight near Coihaique town some 1,649 km (1,025 miles) south of Santiago, Chile, on October 27, 2011. Chile said it had evacuated residents from around a volcano in the country’s far south after it spewed a jet of steam a kilometer into the air and seismic activity triggered an avalanche. (Reuters/Stringer)

5. Dead fish float among debris and small chunks of pumice in the Nilahue river after the eruption of the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano in Rininahue, southern Chile, on June 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Carlos Succo)

6. Lightning bolts strike around an eruption of the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain near southern Osorno city, on June 5, 2011.(Reuters/Ivan Alvarado)

7. Houses and trees are covered by volcanic ash on the bank of Nahuel Huapi Lake in Villa La Angostura in southern Argentina, on June 19, 2011, after the nearby eruption of the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcanic chain. (AP Photo/Federico Grosso)

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