Case study

When Rebecca stepped on to the volcano

A study trip to Tenerife took our Geology and Environmental Hazards student Rebecca Winstanley to the top of the island's most famous volcano - Mount Teide - and gave her inspiration for her career path.

On top of the (Spanish) world

Mount Teide is the highest point in Tenerife. In fact, it’s the highest point in Spain, of which the Canary Islands are a part.

It is also an active volcano. That’s why Rebecca was there. She was taking part in an annual, one-week International Training Course in Volcano Monitoring. The course combines lectures from professional volcanologists with practical fieldwork.

"It’s a great opportunity to learn from some of the best volcanologists and to work with students from all over the world," explains Rebecca.

Rebecca Winstanley studying volcanoes in Tenerife

Out in the field

Rebecca successfully applied for a place on the course after a recommendation from her tutor, Dr Katy Chamberlain. The course is run by Geo Tenerife, which organises tailor-made fieldtrips on the island.

The field days in Tenerife helped Rebecca visualise different aspects of volcanic eruptions, from the cone of the Trevejo volcano, which erupted in 1706, to the town of Garachico, whose old port was destroyed in the eruption.

These field visits were an opportunity for Rebecca to develop her practical skills: “The final field day we went up Mount Teide to take geochemical and geothermal measurements using infrared cameras and automated geochemical monitors.

“We then visited the lab where the Volcanology Institute of the Canaries carries out its data analysis. We learned about some of the machines as well as the research they were currently undertaking on the island.”

Rebecca Winstanley
By the sea in Tenerife

Eruption warning?

What Rebecca learned in the course lectures was also put to practical use. She explains: “Our lectures covered a variety of volcano monitoring topics, from geophysical to geochemical, relating to the volcanologists’ research.

“Towards the end of the week, we had to put all the skills we’d learned into practice to interpret past data from the island and work out whether it was at risk from an imminent volcanic eruption.”

Sulphurous steam rising from the ground

The future

Rebecca found that she was able to use what she had learned on the course in her studies back in Derby and to plan for her next steps. She says: “The content related to my Independent Study project and helped broaden my knowledge.

"I also got to look at different aspects of volcanology, which I may have never considered, and that has helped me decide what I want to focus on in the future. The insight into research helped me to realise that’s what I’d like to do. I’m now completing a Masters by Research in Volcanology.”

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