Eton was fortunate to host the BBC film crew caught in the eruption of Mount Etna in Sicily, Europe’s tallest active volcano, in March earlier this year. The crew, consisting of science correspondent Rebecca Morelle, producer Alison Francis, cameraman Rachel Price and apprentice Sam, shared their story about the eruption to an audience of pupils from Eton and other local schools.

One of the most inspirational parts was when Rebecca Morelle told the story of a 78 year old woman who was with them on the mountain at the time of the eruption and had been very close to the blast. The woman was in Sicily with her son. Once the eruption started, the woman, who struggled to walk properly, reportedly told her son to leave her and save himself, to which he refused and instead waited for help to come to take her off the mountain.

Rachel Price showed the video she had taken during the eruption which showed fragments of boiling rock showering down on everyone and an explosion of very hot steam. A volcanologist at the scene had commented that it was the most dangerous incident he had experienced in his 30 year career. The eruption injured 10 people but fortunately did not claim any lives.

The talk complements an exhibition in the Verey Gallery at the College entitled Creative Destruction, Volcanoes Inspiring Art and Science. The exhibition includes a series of artworks by Emma Stibbon RA, which are being shown alongside spectacular volcanic rock and mineral samples on loan from the Natural History Museum, London, and more footage of volcanic eruptions. The exhibition runs until 6 April 2018.

William Gurney

Photos: (c) Eton College