Amazing.  Just amazing.

Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano — "the Black Giant" — is one of the most active volcanos on Earth.  For the last 1300 years, Tungurahua has been nature's version of the bipolar girlfriend.  Beautiful and friendly for awhile, and then  every 80—100 years...boom! The top blows.  Tungurahua's latest foul mood started around 1999, after almost a century of good behavior.

But twice in 2006, after almost seven years of moderate activity, Tungurahua erupted violently, gushing scorching ash, lava, and pyroclastic flows that claimed the lives of at least five people in the surrounding areas. By sheer coincidence, photographer Patrick Taschler happened to be traveling in Ecuador just before the explosion. When he heard that Tungurahua was on the verge of a major eruption, he made a beeline for the volcano in hopes of catching it in action. As you can see...he did.  Proof positive that under the right circumstances, one of nature's most dangerous and destructive events can also be one of the most beautiful.

For unbelievable high res photos of Tascher's shots of Tungurahua, click here and here.