In June 2018 I flew to the land of volcanoes – Tenerife, to embark on a four-week internship monitoring the heart of this incredible island, Mt Teide. I am passionate about natural hazards and everything they encompass: their physical attributes and devastating consequences that make monitoring necessary to protect and preserve people and the environment. Therefore, I was full of enthusiasm and some nerves as I made my journey to Tenerife where I would be working alongside professionally acclaimed scientists at INVOLCAN (Instituto Volcanológico de Canarias) HQ. On arrival those nerves quickly dissipated as I was faced with the other students that shared passions of Geoscience like mine and were as excited to step into the unknown that followed.
I experienced a variety of work that allowed me to explore vast areas of the island including the incredible national park while also performing analysis on samples looking for any unusual data that would indicate changes in the magmatic activity of Mt Teide. Over the first three weeks I collected soil flux gas samples from alkaline traps and performed chemical analysis through micro-chromatography (micro GC) and quadrupole mass spectrometry (QMS). I also took ground water samples performing in situ pH, temperature and conductivity measurements and in the lab use ion chromatography (IC). Soil CO2 flux monitoring is vital to the work at INVOLCAN and is necessary for weekly assessment of Mt Teide. On my final week I got to travel to La Palma an island 190km from Tenerife and an idyllic place to work. I performed further soil CO2 degassing analysis and got to explore a beautiful and undisturbed haven.
As well as providing huge benefits for my academic experience the people I met were equally important. Working alongside scientists was so inspiring, I performed the same work as them gaining respect and responsibility. They conduct their research with enthusiasm and dedication often working in harsh conditions and travelling constantly to actively monitor Mt Teide and all the Canary Islands every day. Also, I must mention my fellow interns, the laughs kept us going and hearing everyone’s stories at the end of the day gave us the motivation to keep working hard. Weekends were filled with sun, relaxation and exciting trips. We were lucky enough to sail alongside dolphins, visit the longest lava tubes in Europe, discover traditional villages like Garachico and enjoy the famous celebration San Juan. Most importantly it allowed us to understand the people of Tenerife and why this active monitoring is vital for those who live on this amazing volcanic island.
At university we often perform research ‘just because’ but GeoTenerife allowed me to finally utilise my skills and passions for a greater cause, it was the best feeling to know every sample, every analysis was worthwhile and vitally important for the island and the population. Now, I feel even more passionate to continue along this career path, confident in my skills, abilities and proud of the experience and how it will benefit and shape my future.