The latest teaser for Jurassic World 2 has promised an explosive sequel, and one where the dinosaurs may not be the big bad. It opens with Chris Pratt's Owen Grady running across the fields of Isla Nublar. Moments later, a horde of stampeding dinosaurs emerge from the smoke behind him, charging forward, even as Owen and his friends take cover. In the background, we see a terrifying sight - a volcanic eruption.
So, it definitely looks as though dinosaurs aren't the greatest threat in Fallen Kingdom. This time around, we're dealing with an active volcano.
This Isn't Any Ordinary Volcano
There have long been rumors that volcanoes would play a key part in Fallen Kingdom. Those were apparently confirmed back in September, when Jurassic Outpost revealed merchandise related to the film. Although NBC Universal and Ten Four Creative asked the site to take the images down, they were able to disclose that the packaging included images of an erupting volcano.
Now the official teaser has finally confirmed these long-standing rumors. What's more, our first glimpse has given us a sense of just how dangerous the volcano could be. This is what's called a stratovolcano, and eruptions from this kind tend to be pretty explosive. As a rule, the longer it's been between eruptions, the larger one will be due to the build-up of pressure in the magma chamber.
What we have here looks to be in the early stages of an eruption cycle, with the volcano essentially "clearing its throat" in order to begin the main eruption sequence. Owen and his friends are clearly close enough to the volcano to be at risk of being hit by volcanic bombs, lumps of rock thrown out of the volcano that can be the size of a bus. But those aren't the only hazards we'd expect to see, even at this early stage in the eruption. You can already see a plume of ash rising above the volcano, and that ash will coat the surface of Isla Nubla. Ash fragments are sharp enough to shred your lungs if you breathe them in, while they're typically accompanied by poisonous volcanic gases. The ash would also seriously complicate any evacuation of the island; it interferes with electrical signals, making communication difficult, and turns into slush inside engines, clogging them up.
Even more concerning is the fact that the ash seems to be blasting down the side of the volcano. It looks as though this eruption is already becoming seriously explosive, with a volcanic phenomenon known as a pyroclastic flow. This is a lateral blast of gas and ash that sweeps down the volcano's slopes. The kinetic force of a pyroclastic flow is enough to topple every tree in an area, the gases are searing and toxic, and the ash can have a temperature of almost 1,500° F. The only way to survive a pyroclastic flow is to get out of the way.
Things could be even worse for the dinosaurs of Isla Nubla. The most explosive eruptions in this kind of setting have the power to literally shatter an island. In 1883, the eruption of Krakatau in Indonesia caused over 70% of the volcanic island to collapse into the sea. We have no way of knowing whether or not Fallen Kingdom intends to portray an eruption on the scale of Krakatau - or indeed if it will do so accurately - but we can certainly see why there are rumors that the film's plot is about Owen leading an expedition to evacuate the dinosaurs from Isla Nubla. Little wonder Chris Pratt described the sequel as "scarier, darker, and unexpected."
There's a poetic irony in the Jurassic World franchise using a volcano as a terrifying threat. Scientists believe an upsurge in volcanism, likely a result of an asteroid impact, was in part responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs in the first place. And, of course, the films have always toyed with volcanic landscapes. Now, what was just scenery is driving the plot, threatening both dinos and humans alike.
- Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) release date: Jun 22, 2018