Sunday, January 16, 2011

Baja’s East Sea

Prior to the collapse of the San Andreas Fault Zone Complex, which includes the Elsinore Fault Zone, the Sea of Cortes, known today as the Gulf of California, and referred to by David Rosenvall in his Baja Theory for the Land of Promise as the East Sea, did not exist. Thus, the entire Baja peninsula was once part of the mainland of Mexico. When the collapse occurred, the plate movements that formed the Andes and Rocky Mountains tore basins in the earth’s crust that allowed the Sea of Cortes to form, thus separating the land area west of the fault zone from the land to the east. At one time, the Sea of Cortes extended as far north as Palm Springs in California. This movement would have continued northward, but silting from the Colorado River delta filled in the area and stopped the northward filling of the sea.

The time frame for this collapse is consistent in the geological time frame with both the rise of the Andes Mountains in South America, and the rise of the Rocky Mountains in the United States. When transposing the current scientific thinking of a 4.55 billion year old earth to the time frame set down by Moses in Genesis and the Pearl of Great Price, we can move that time frame up to about two thousand years ago, or to the time of the crucifixion and the catastrophic events shown in 3 Nephi and elsewhere in the Book of Mormon.

In any event, let’s take a look at this East Sea. In science, it is one of the most interesting bodies of water on earth. Over 600 miles long, having an area of almost 60,000 square miles, and with deep basins in its central and southern portions, one more than 14,000 feet in depth. The largest tidal range in the world, up to 31 feet, occurs at its north end, and low tides uncover mud flats up to 3 miles wide. Tidal currents form huge whirlpools and rips in the "Midriff" region of the central region, and velocities of over 6 knots have been recorded. Large swells do not build up as they do in the ocean and there is little horizontal surge. Variations in water temperature also are extreme, inshore surface waters reaching 91 degrees in the south during summer and 47 degrees in the north during winter.

In the scriptural record, this East Sea is mentioned four times in Alma, two times in Helaman, and none at all after the cataclysm mentioned in 3 Nephi. The east seashore is also mentioned thirteen times in Alma, but not afterward. This might suggest that after the cataclysm at the time of the crucifixion, there was no East Sea or eastern seashore. However, that can not be proven one way or the other

The point here is that Rosenvall makes an interesting point about the comment in Ether which reads: “And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land” (Ether 10:20). Rosenvall adds: “Along the east coast of Baja California there is only one place where one can see across the Sea of Cortes to the mainland of Mexico. This visually narrow area correlates with the location of the “narrow neck of land” in the Book of Mormon record where it appears that it was possible for the Nephites to look across the sea and see land on the other side. There is no other location along the east coast of Baja California where one can visually discern mainland Mexico.”

Rosenvall’s area where the Sea Divides the Land

An interesting take on the scripture cited. However, a few things work against that. First, Moroni is describing the narrow neck of land area and the city the Jaredites built. Before that he is mentioning the end of the poisonous serpents that had hedged up the way into the Land Southward. Then he describes the Land Southward was to be kept as a preserve for animals. Thus, Moroni is describing the two division of lands—the Land Northward and the Land Southward—and area that is divided by a narrow neck of land where the sea divides these two lands. This cannot be construed to mean that at this point, Moroni diverts his attention and thinking to mention that an unnamed land to the east of the East Sea can be seen and that the sea that divides the Land of Promise from this unknown land is divided at this point.

Secondly, there is no mention of the East Sea in connection with the narrow neck other than in relation to the narrow pass or passage that runs through it. In fact, when the narrow neck is mentioned, it is usually in regard to the West Sea, such as when Hagoth built and launched his ships. Nor can it be said that “Along the east coast of Baja California there is only one place where one can see across the Sea of Cortes to the mainland of Mexico” is important in understanding or interpreting the Land of Promise in the scriptural record. In fact, there is very little mention of the east sea except in connection to the cities the Nephites built along that seashore—certainly there is no suggestion that a major land mass is to the east of the Land of Promise that is much, much larger than the Land of promise itself.

How on earth could the Land of Promise be kept from other nations when it could so easily be reached from the north, or across the 48 miles of the Sea of Cortes to the mainland of Mexico on the east, as the Spaniards did so easily once they arrived in the New World?

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