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The Tempest, Tectonics & The Volcano: A Theory…

By JOpinionated,

  Filed under: Lost Theories
  Comments: 10

A devil, a born
devil, on whose nature

Nurture can
never stick; on whom my pains,

Humanely taken,
all, all lost, quite lost.”

Shakespeare, The Tempest


Although Season 4 of Lost ended months
ago, the lingering questions remain. I am particularly interested in the
significance of The Tempest and the island’s volcano. Bear with me as I weave a few theories that
intertwine both by applying geology and geography to the overall Lost canon and


At this point, all we know about The
Tempest is that it was a somewhat secretive station where Goodwin worked with
chemicals and toxic gases. Last season, physicist and Freighter Four headcase
Daniel Faraday successfully rendered the gas in The Tempest inert; all of the
island’s inhabitants would have died if those lethal gases were released. Ben falsely
led Juliet to believe that Faraday and Charlotte Lewis intended to do just


There have been various references to a
volcano on the island:

  • Young Ben’s teacher Olivia mentioned it
    in Dharma class
  • The word ‘crater’ appeared on Rousseau’s
  • Bernard’s attempt at an SOS sign on the
    beach was created with volcanic rocks
  • The substance surrounding Jacob’s cabin
    appeared to be ash (ghost hunters believe in a mixture of ash and salt from the
    sea for spiritual protection; something tells me that Miles and Jacob will be the
    pair to watch in Season 5)


It is important to note that not all
volcanoes resemble those we see at science fairs or in Close Encounters of the Third Kind; some are mere plateaus with
level surfaces and deep canyons, and vents that issue gases may be located
anywhere in the vicinity. The island may just be or feature one such volcano.

Volcanic gases can be toxic, leading to
death by asphyxiation or acidic corrosion. The gases stored in The Tempest
station may be supplied by the island’s volcano; Alpert and Ben could have
utilized them to kill off the Dharma staff during the Purge.

There are also volcanic gases which are
lethal to flora and fauna but not human beings; earlier this year in Hawaii, a
volcano opened a vent and spewed toxic gas which killed a majority of the
island’s crops. When Ben oversaw the original Purge, it didn’t appear that the
gas destroyed the plant life and animals on the island. Remember also that
Mikhail made reference to the fact that he avoided the Purge by simply staying
put at his station, and that Rousseau somehow lived through it as well (not to
mention Annie). Thus, the lethal gases used in the Purge were contained to a
smaller area…likely the Barracks.


If The Tempest does indeed store
multiple types of gases (including non-volcanic) for myriad purposes, a logical
source of funding and supply would be Widmore Labs. After all, Charles Widmore
(via Matthew Abaddon) provided the Naomi and the Freighter Four with a map to
The Tempest before their mission, as well as gas masks and hazmat suits.


Volcanic rock along the ocean floor
contains a magnetic material which can distort compass readings. As we have
seen on numerous occasions, compasses do not function properly on or near the
island, which is why Ben and Faraday insist upon using very specific bearings
to escape it.


Black Smokers are hydrothermal deep sea
vents on the ocean floor which occur near volcanically active locations. At this point it is unclear exactly where Smokey
(a.k.a. the Black Smoke Monster) emanates from, but at the very least it shares
polymorphic and physical characteristics with a Black Smoker vent.



A series of oceanic trenches and
volcanic belts along the basin of the Pacific Ocean, the Pacific Ring of Fire has
the distinction of housing three quarters of the earth’s volcanoes (Indonesia’s
rank among the most active). It was created as a result of tectonic plate
collisions and movement.

Geographically speaking, it can be
argued that Indonesia is nestled between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. We have
absolutely no idea where the island actually is (or was before Ben ‘moved’ it),
but passengers on Flight 815 are convinced that they are somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. However, the fake wreckage of Flight 815 was discovered in the Indian Ocean; Naomi stated that the plane was
found in an ocean trench near Bali in Indonesia. In the Season 4 episode
“Confirmed Dead,” a newscaster reported that the wreckage was in The Sunda
Trench, which is located near Indonesia along the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Even though it is not one of the
countries in the Pacific Ring of Fire, Australia is close to The Sunda Trench. If
Flight 815 did crash in that vicinity, the pilot’s assessment of how far off
course they were was incorrect. Former Oceanic and current Freighter Four
helicopter pilot Frank Lapidus may be aware of this…


Volcanoes are generally located where
tectonic plates pull apart or come together, and volcanic activity occurs along
plate boundaries. A collision of converging tectonic plates has the power to
lift the sea floor.

Perhaps the turn of the Frozen Donkey
Wheel resulted in a reversal of tectonic plates, submerging the island beneath
the surface of the sea. Whether or not the island was simply relocated into and
insulted inside of a giant subterranean crater remains to be seen.


Dr. Cheng’s three pseudonyms relate to
fire (CANDLE, WICKmund, HalliWAX), which leads me to believe that his work was
somehow related to the island’s volcano. Yes, he was an astrophysicist, but
that field of study involves both electromagnetism and the study of temperature
and chemical composition. Further, the ‘incident’ he referred to may not actually
have been The Purge at all, but rather an accident at The Tempest (like
Goodwin’s chemical burn) which resulted in the loss of his arm.


This particular Dharma logo is a giant
white wave, which could indicate a cataclysmic event such as a volcanic
eruption on the sea floor that causes a tidal wave or tsunami.


We all know that major literary works
are integrated into the show and add to the overall mythology. Here is my basic
and brief interpretation of how Shakespeare’s tale relates to Lost.

A well-read sorcerer (Ben) and his
daughter (Alex) are stranded on an island after his brother manufactured a
storm (the tempest) which set them adrift. On the island, the sorcerer
begrudgingly works with a spirit (Jacob) and an original inhabitant (Richard

An obvious question would then be…who
is Ben’s brother? Charles Widmore is an unlikely option (he is British,
substantially older and would probably not have ordered the execution of his
niece; I am quite aware that Alex was not Ben’s real daughter, but it seems
rather doubtful that Widmore would ‘change the game’ in that manner, subsequently
putting his own daughter Penny in danger). This leaves Locke…an oft-debated
possibility, although his cunning intellect and ability to outthink Ben have
yet to manifest.


Desmond’s former hatch mate created the
infamous map on the blast door, and it appears that The Tempest is noted. How
would Inman have known about it?

And it cannot be mere coincidence that
Tariq, Sayid’s former superior in the Republican Guard, oversaw the chemical
warfare (sarin gas) that wiped out Sayid’s entire village. Remember that Inman
was the one who ordered Sayid to torture Tariq for his actions…

Apologies for the random order of these
theories and thoughts. Thanks for reading, and please share your own!

  • Bezmina

    This is a really well thought through series of theories, thanks I really enjoyed reading it!

    As for Ben’s brother should we be on the look out for Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun or Joseph?

    My money is on us seeing a man with a coat of many colours sometime soon.

  • Haliwax

    I would probably say that there has been a volcano near the island rather than agree that there is one ON the island. While i’m SURE there would be some explanation for it, i can’t quite see how a volcano (whose lava and gases erupt from the earth’s core) could be as mobile as the island is. It would have to “plug” the volcano back into the earth’s crust upon each move. Of course, i’m trying to find a practical explanation for something involving a moving island, so maybe i’m trying too hard. 🙂

  • Casey the Great

    Nice work. One little glitch…Inman did not create the blast door map. His former partner, Radzinsky, created the map. He killed himself before Desmond arrived on the scene. See the Lostpedia entry for the blast door map for details.

  • Chris

    One other note. . . I don’t think that there is any question to “the incident” not being the purge. The purge happened in the early 90’s, the incident is refered to in the swan orietation video copywritten in 1980. I think that it is possible that it could be an incident at the tempest, though I always figured that the incedent refered to an occourance at the swan, hence the failsafe key.

  • maven

    Well, thought out, Jo. Thanks for pointing out all the
    the volcanic mentions and tie-ins on the show.
    Olivia’s volcano lesson to the children was not a
    random thing. If there is indeed a volcano under
    the island, I am confused how an undersea vent
    would move if the island physically disappeared.
    But I could definitely see how volcanic gasses
    have played a role in the mythology of LOST.

  • Charlie’s Ghost

    i thought it was clear that the incident had to do with that one corridor being sealed off in the Swan station. didn’t Inman say something about ‘so we don’t have another incident’…or ‘that was from the incident’ ? I thought so, but maybe i’m off …


  • Toga

    Im seriously starting to to think Bens mind minapulations are more than just a genius with a plan .If Miles can speak with ghosts its not impossible Ben has some Jedi mind trickery mojo. Helps with the sorcerer part of the tempest theroy at least.

    My main problem with the tempest stuff is that im not sure they would use subtext with a hatch name. Not usually something that has significant meaning like episode names or psudonymns. I think of tempest as more of a geeky writers name for a station, like hydra or orchid.

  • mpl

    These are extremely minor, but…it was Harper who told Juliet that Daniel and Charlotte were going to detonate the gas…Harper said Ben snet her, but we don’t know that’s true. Also, I’m not sure the Ben “oversaw” the purge…he definitely killed his father, and he definitely was co-operating with the Hostiles, but late last season he was backing off of being the big bad guy in that, or at least that’s what I heard. Maybe you can tell that I’ve become a huge hey-ben-isn’t-such-a-bad-guy fan.

  • Capcom

    Very good thoughts! The volcano info is very useful as well. I also like the Smokey tie-in to volcanic activity. 🙂

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