Last January, three Volcanofiles: Kayla Iacovino, Tehnuka Ilanko, and Nial Peters (along with friend of the Volcanofiles and guide, Talfan Barnie), ventured south to Africa.
The four of us attended the Magmatic Rifting and Active Volcanism Conference hosted by the Afar Rift Consortium. The three day conference took place at the Ararat Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Nial and Tehnuka jointly presented a paper at the conference on the methodologies behind studying the motion of and degassing from the Erebus lava lake.
After the conference has finished, we headed out into the field. The height of our 9-day trip through the Ethiopian desert was to be our one-night stay at the summit of Erta Ale: one of the only three persistent volcanic lava lakes in the world.
Unfortunately, tradgedy struck the night before we were meant to summit the volcano. A group of tourists fell victim to a targeted shooting and kidnapping on the summit of Erta Ale. At the time, we were less than 24 hours from that very spot. Upon hearing the news, we set up camp for the night in a local town and waited until we heard more from authorities. Once the attacks had been confirmed, it was obvious that we were no longer safe in the Afar region, and we removed ourselves from the area as quickly as possible.
Thanks to the magic of social media and Kayla’s SPOT Connect satellite communication device, we were able to get the word out that everyone in our group was safe. This was crucial, as news of the attacks hit the world media circuits before we returned to cell and wifi service.