Michael Thompson

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Michael has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Queensland, Australia.  He has served in the Australian Military as a Marine Engineer before passing selection for the Australian Army Special Forces Commando Regiment.  During his seven year service with the military he was fortunate to serve operationally on three occasions.  On the first occasion he served as second in command of a Commando Company in support of the counter terrorism effort for the Nations Transitional Authority East Timor with the Royal Australian Infantry Corps in the Second Battalion as Company 2/C and also as Specialist Signals Platoon Commander.  Michael also served in Iraq as part of Operation Catalyst as the second in charge of the Australian Security Detachment.  Upon separation from the Army he moved to Vanuatu in the South Pacific with his wife and two children where he used his Engineering and military climbing skills to build the Vanuatu Jungle Zipline, now Vanuatu’s largest tourist attraction.  Vanuatu is blessed with numerous active volcanoes and Michael assisted on a few occasions with expeditions to gain access to the Lava Lake of the Marum Volcano on Ambrym Island.  Challenges included the 420 m descent down rocky cliffs subject to significant rock fall, toxic gas clouds, acid rain, earthquakes and risk of volcanic eruption.

More recently Michael was the Chief Engineer to provide access for an expedition to the Lava Lake in the Masaya Volcano in Nicaragua.  Masaya presented an extremely complex operating environment where a large team of scientists, explorers, physicists, photographers, filmmakers and drone pilots gathered data and mapped the volcano in order to better predict future eruptions.  Hazards included lightning, severe weather and storms, rock fall, heat exhaustion, exposure to lava and the unexpected activity from several volcanic vents.  The expedition team was fortunate to be able to initially take refuge in a small lava tube that was subsequently used as a storage and generator space.  Exploration and volcanoes are his passion.