Mount Sibo – Isla Nublar (S/F)

Explosive degassing event following the breach of Mount Sibo’s magma chamber (6/23/2018)

Mount Sibo is a stratovolcano located in the northwest of Isla Nublar. It was last known to be active in 1525, and remained dormant until it was reawakened by tectonic activity in February 2017.

Mount Sibo was classified as dormant for almost five hundred years following its discovery. It most recently erupted on June 23, 2018, causing the extinction of Isla Nublar’s ecosystem.

Location

Mount Sibo exists in northern Isla Nublar. Its exact position is inconsistent between maps, but it is generally shown slightly to the northwest. According to a live feed from the Costa Rican Institute for Volcanology provided by the Dinosaur Protection Group, Mount Sibo is located at 10°24’50″N, 94°7’3″W. It is located in a mountain range near a large valley, just inland of the northern coast.

Description
Mount Sibo as seen from the south, 6/12/1993

Mount Sibo is a stratovolcano, meaning its steep conical shape is built up from volcanic debris deposited over multiple eruptions. Its crater has varied in size over time, presumably along with levels of activity in the volcano itself. In 1993, when the volcano had been dormant for over four hundred years, its crater was smaller and mostly hidden by the mountain’s peak. Its summit was 2,058 feet above sea level as of 1993.

When the volcano was first recorded by Nicolas de Huelva in 1525, it was portrayed as being lower and less steep, though this may be a mistake on the part of the cartographer. The volcano was known to be active at the time of its discovery by Spanish explorers.

Mount Sibo, as most volcanoes, was riddled with lava tubes underneath. As of 1993, new steam vents and lava rivers would sometimes occur, but the volcano itself remained inactive. The relative docility of Mount Sibo’s lava sources allowed InGen to use it for geothermal power, both for Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. There were still incidents, however; the volcano was not entirely safe, and stringent security protocols were put in place to avoid sabotage or accidents.

Map of Isla Nublar drawn by Nicolas de Huelva, cartographer for La Estrella, 1525

The 2015 Jurassic Park arcade game portrayed a vast system of caverns and fantastical rock formations beneath Mount Sibo, as well as a river cascading down its sides through a steep valley and feeding into an underground lake within the mountain, but there is no evidence that the cave system under Mount Sibo was this elaborate in the film canon itself. In addition, the arcade game (in reference to its 1993 predecessor, of which it is essentially a remake) portrays Mount Sibo as erupting shortly after the 1993 incident. The arcade game additionally portrays the eruption as slow, rather than violently explosive, with lava oozing gradually over the island.

In 2017, tectonic activity opened up a fissure underneath Mount Sibo, granting it renewed access to a series of high-pressure magma chambers. This allowed magma to start rising though the volcano, while pressure continued to build underneath. On June 23, 2018, the volcano violently exploded due to this pent-up pressure, destroying much of its outer structure.

The interior of Mount Sibo’s lava tubes, with an active lava flow passing underneath the geothermal power plant

The handheld game Jurassic World: The Game portrays Mount Sibo as a cinder cone, rather than a stratovolcano, and places it in the northeast of the island rather than the northwest. This is probably a reference to the active volcano from the previous game Jurassic Park: Builder which players could place on the island; the latter game also allowed dormant volcanoes, volcanic vents, and lava-filled fissures to be placed on the island. Jurassic World: The Game allows the player to place geysers and large lava pits on the island, and dialogue describes geothermally-heated patches of earth in the north which are hot enough to damage the skin of a person’s feet. However, none of these features have appeared in the films, and are not corroborated by any in-film evidence.

Name

The name of Mount Sibo comes from Sibù, the creator deity in Bribri tradition.

InGen employees sometimes referred to the mountain as Mount Hammond, after John Hammond, rather than using the volcano’s native name. Masrani Global Corporation‘s official website referred to it as Mount Sibo, however, and from 2015 onward the original native name maintained popularity over the one given by Westerners.

History
Prehistory

Mount Sibo would have originated on the seafloor of the Cocos Plate. Volcanic activity would have formed a seamount, gradually building up into what is now Isla Nublar. Without the activity of Mount Sibo, the island would not exist. However, as the island is not located on a plate boundary, it would not be continuously active. It would periodically become cut off from its supply of magma and go dormant for extended periods of time.

It is not currently known when Mount Sibo first formed, or how long Isla Nublar has existed.

1525 and earlier

According to dialogue in Jurassic Park: The Game given by Nima Cruz, the native Tun-Si people of Isla Nublar believed that the mountain was constructed by the animals of the world. The mountain resembles the conical house which, in Bribri culture, represents the universe and its many layers. The creator deity, Sibù, would reside at the top.

In 1525, Mount Sibo was actively producing volcanic smog, indicating activity at that time. The plume of black smoke is believed to have been spotted by Nicolas de Huelva, cartographer for La Estrella, who named the island Isla Nublar (“Cloud Island”) for this reason. This immediately led to the discovery of the island by the Spanish.

1980s-1990s: Jurassic Park

During the 1980s, the native people of Isla Nublar were displaced and the volcano was utilized for geothermal power by InGen for Jurassic Park. Active magma flows were present under the island at the time, but there was no indication of volcanic activity. Safety procedures surrounding the geothermal power plant were highly guarded. There were at least two incidents in the plant; one of unknown nature on May 24, 1993 and another on June 12, 1993 which involved a failure of the pressure release valves. This resulted in a dangerous uncontrolled steam pressure buildup which, according to Dr. Laura Sorkin, could have caused an explosion capable of destroying half of the island.

During this period of time, geomagnetic activity occurring around Isla Nublar made mapping difficult enough that the island was simply omitted from some maps.

2002-2015: Jurassic World

During the operational phase of Jurassic World, sixty-five percent of the power on Isla Nublar was taken from the geothermal activity within Mount Sibo.

According to the mobile game Jurassic World: The Game, there were no volcanologists employed by Masrani Global Corporation during this time. The game includes a geomagnetic storm as part of the plot, which does not occur in the film; however, the game also indicates that such events had not occurred on the island in decades, referencing the magnetic interference which occurred during the 1980s and 1990s.

2017-Present: Renewed activity

Tectonic activity on the Cocos Plate occurred in early 2017, opening up fissures beneath Mount Sibo which reconnected it with a supply of magma. The Costa Rican Institute for Volcanology investigated this incident and filed a report in February, which reads: “A shift in the tectonic plates resulted in minor aftershocks throughout the rockbed, creating a relatively small fissure that caused a rise in heat beneath Mt. Sibo. The visible plumes of smoke are the result of plant life and other biological matter catching fire from the temperature change. There is no immediate threat to the island at this time.”

Volcanic smog from Mount Sibo is clearly visible at a distance (exact date unknown, 2017-2018)

In September, a private helicopter illegally flying over Isla Nublar approached the volcano. Passengers reported magma rupturing from the mountain’s peak. This prompted the CRIV to investigate further, using various methods such as harmonic tremor readings, infrared satellite scans, and seismic measurements. Mount Sibo was classified as active based on the results. Seismic measurements were less reliable due to interference from the impact tremors of large dinosaurs walking on the island.

On October 5, Mount Sibo’s volcanic status level (VSL) was set to MAG 3, or “Significant Activity.”

Infrared simulation of Mount Sibo’s destructive potential (published February 4, 2018 at http://www.dinosaurprotectiongroup.com/volcano.html)

High-energy particle scans of the crust beneath Mount Sibo revealed the presence of magma chambers under intense stress. While the exact destructive power of the volcano could not be discerned, simulations suggested that temperature changes due to the eruption could cause the entire island to burn. According to a report published on February 4, 2018 by Franklin Webb of the Dinosaur Protection Group, the eruption could be one of the most destructive ever recorded.

Documentation provided by the DPG indicates that, between February 11, 2017 and May 12, 2017, Mount Sibo increased from a VSL of MAG 0 (“Dormant/Extinct”) to MAG 1 (“Light Activity”) and MAG 2 (“Moderate Activity”) before reaching the aforementioned MAG 3 classification, which it maintained for approximately a year. Harmonic resonance readings show two significant spikes in activity at the time MAG 2 was reached, in late March and early April. In general, spikes in volcanic activity also caused changes in dinosaur activity on the island, possibly due to geomagnetic effects.

Seismic harmony readings for Mount Sibo from 2/11/17 to 5/12/17, published February 4, 2018 at http://www.dinosaurprotectiongroup.com/volcano.html
Activity at Mount Sibo from the CRIV Public Archives, 4/18/2018. Provided by the DPG.

The DPG Twitter account reported increased activity on April 18, 2018, but its VSL was not updated by the CRIV. Increased activity was also reported on June 10, 2018, and similarly, the CRIV did not make an update to the volcano’s status.

On June 22, 2018, the CRIV reported Mount Sibo’s VSL as MAG 4 (“Eruption Imminent”), as the tremor readings were exceeding the eruption threshold.

Mount Sibo erupted on June 23, 2018 at approximately midday. The magma chamber was breached, causing a surge of magma which ruptured the volcano from the base upward. Lava bombs were ejected from the summit, and lava began to spread across the northern island. Several minutes later, the eastern side of the volcano collapsed, unleashing a pyroclastic cloud which washed across the northeastern island. Within several more minutes, most of the island was burning.

Cultural Significance

The native Tun-Si tribe viewed Mount Sibo as a sacred place due to its appearance, which was similar to the conical house of Bribri tradition. The conical house represents the universe, separated into layers for each of its inhabitants; the creator deity resides at the top. According to Nima Cruz, the Tun-Si people believed that animals had constructed the mountain. It was, therefore, central to the spiritual beliefs of the Tun-Si.

Mount Sibo also had relevance in Western culture. It is theorized to have given Isla Nublar its name, meaning “Cloud Island” in Spanish, as it was active at the time of the island’s discovery by the carrack La Estrella in 1525. The volcano’s activity was directly responsible for Isla Nublar being discovered.

It was utilized throughout the 1980s through the 2010s as a source of geothermal power by International Genetic Technologies, later under the wing of Masrani Global Corporation. As of June 1993, the geothermal plant was running at 30% capacity; when running at 80% capacity during Phase II of Park operation, it was estimated to be capable of producing twice the energy needs of the island. As of 2014, Masrani Global reported that 65% of the island’s power came from geothermal energy, a part of their campaign to reduce emissions. However, the December 2015 incident at Jurassic World ended the use of Mount Sibo for this purpose.

From early 2017 until the volcano’s eruption on June 23, 2018, Mount Sibo was used as an icon for extinct animal rights by the Dinosaur Protection Group following the revelation that the volcano was becoming an active threat to the inhabitants of the island. A counteractive organization to the DPG, the Extinction Now! group, used the volcano as a logo to promote the extinction of genetically-modified organisms. However, the island was restricted to the public by U.S. and Costa Rican law, with shipping and flight routes redirected; only offshore research vessels were allowed near the island. Masrani Global Corporation still technically owned the island, but took no action to protect its inhabitants. The Costa Rican Environmental Protection Society also made no comment regarding the continued protection of the island.

Threats from the eruption mostly involved local air traffic being affected by clouds of volcanic ash driven by wind. However, activity from Mount Sibo would not affect the mainland, and damage would be restricted to the island and the surrounding ocean. As a result, neither Masrani Global nor the governments of the U.S. and Costa Rica saw need to take action. Scientific monitoring of the island ceased in late 2017 or early 2018, with all technologies and personnel being recalled. From that point onward, all research was carried out by the Dinosaur Protection Group and their partners at the Phillane Institute of Volcanology.

Through early 2018, the Dinosaur Protection Group continued to campaign for public and private support, using imagery of Mount Sibo to represent the danger an eruption would pose to Isla Nublar. In response, Extinction Now! became active on social media in the month preceding the eruption, also using imagery of Mount Sibo to represent their desire for the death of all de-extinct species.

Ecological Significance

Without the volcanic activity of Mount Sibo, the entirety of Isla Nublar would never have existed; lava flowing from the volcano would have formed a seamount which eventually grew into an island. Volcanic soil is highly fertile, so Isla Nublar would have been colonized by plants fairly early on; eventually, animals also colonized the island, so in effect, every living thing on Isla Nublar existed only because the volcano existed in the first place.

However, Mount Sibo was not always beneficial to Isla Nublar’s inhabitants. Geomagnetic activity would become quite strong at times (during the 1980s and 1990s, it was severe enough that cartographers simply left Isla Nublar off some maps); this would have affected animals such as birds. According to Masrani Global Corporation, hundreds of birds of many species nest on Isla Nublar’s coasts, and many more bird species can be heard inland, so a large number of bird species would be affected by geomagnetic events. During 2017 and 2018, increased activity is known to have altered the behavior of the dinosaurs InGen introduced to the island, and other animals would likely have been affected as well.

Increased volcanic activity throughout 2017 and 2018 polluted Isla Nublar’s rivers, including the Jungle River. Water became acidic due to the outgassing of sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide from beneath the island, causing harmful algal blooms which deprived the water of oxygen. Ashfall exacerbated this effect in areas where volcanic ash was blown by the wind. This, in turn, killed native fish species, which caused a collapse of the food chain affecting even piscivorous dinosaurs such as Baryonyx and Suchomimus. At higher altitudes, species were threatened by hydrogen fluoride contamination. Rainstorms washed this hydrogen fluoride into water sources, bringing it to the southern lowlands. Species affected in the region near the island included Parasaurolophus, Pachycephalosaurus, and Microceratus, which were considered at highest risk by the Dinosaur Protection Group. Pulmonary exposure to volcanic ash which settled on vegetation exacerbated the effects of hydrogen fluoride. Effects included severe burns and irritation on the eyes, lungs, and mucous membranes, chronic illness, and secondary infections, which could lead to death.

On June 23, 2018, Mount Sibo experienced a catastrophic explosive eruption which resulted in the complete destruction of Isla Nublar’s ecosystem. In a typical stratovolcano eruption, magma is too stiff to allow the release of volcanic gases; as a result, the gases remain trapped until the magma chamber is breached. This causes an explosive degassing event. The lava itself is viscous and slow-moving, while the primary threat from such an eruption is the pyroclastic flow. In the 2018 eruption of Mount Sibo, a pyroclastic flow occurred due to the partial collapse of the side of the mountain. Volcanic bombs also occurred; in a typical stratovolcano eruption, volcanic bombs may impact up to twelve miles away from the volcano itself, and may strike at hundreds of miles per hour. These hazards would easily overwhelm an area the size of Isla Nublar, killing most animal and plant life on the island. Most notably, this would have likely caused the extinction of the endemic Nublar tufted deer, as well as any de-extinct species not already removed from the island.