interesting effect idea needed

I’m trying to figure out the best way to do this…I need to come up with a solution today (Thursday).
Imagine a large tank (9’/2.8m diameter and 20’/6m long) laying like a hot dog. It’s half full of something like tiny gravel/large sand. It’s also full of water. The sand bed gets tight and compacted after a little while, and it needs a burst from within to “fluidize” it. The real world application of this thing is already developed. It’s bursted with high pressure water/air mix from about 25 places within this sand bed. It runs for a few seconds, maybe half a minute until the sand is loose, then it all gets churned around in the whole tank. What I need to show is the initial burst:
I’m thinking the only way is with particles: the new particle system with explode. But I need it to look like it’s happening very fast, but at the same time only moves a tiny amount. I can’t seem to get any settings to show what I want, especially with the small grain sizes I want to show.
Any ideas?

How about doing it like Discovery chanel does it and have the 25 Particle emitters give their particle burst while an inset shows what happens to the agregate while the water/air mixture puts it into suspension.


I laid down on a Hil-Rom air-suspension bed once that was like you described (you know the Pope sleeps on one). It was like floating on top of water - very wierd, but really nice.