Friday, February 4, 2011

The Island of South America – Part II

Continuing from the last post with the comments sent to me by a friend regarding statements made by a Baja Peninsula theorist, the next points are:

4. “If you read the Book of Mormon carefully you will see that only one mountain rises up and one city falls into the sea.”

If you really read the Book of Mormon carefully, you will find that the one mountain which rose up covered a city—for that was the object of discussion in 3 Nephi: the destruction of cities and ending of life. However Samuel the Lamanite tells us a more complete story when he prophesized: “And behold, there shall be great tempests, and there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23). That is, there would be many mountains laid low (plural) and many areas that would become mountains (plural), and those mountains would rise to a great height. In addition, Nephi quoted the Prophet Zenos who described “three days of darkness“ at the time of the crucifixion, “and the rocks of the earth must rend,” and also said, “And others with the thunderings and the lightnings of his power, by tempest, by fire, and by smoke, and vapor of darkness, and by the opening of the earth, and by mountains which shall be carried up” (1 Nephi 19:10-11). Nephi then stated “he surely did show unto the prophets of old all things concerning them; and also he did show unto many concerning us; wherefore, it must needs be that we know concerning them for they are written upon the plates of brass” (1 Nephi 19:21).

Now, consider the “opening of the earth,” for this is not a cosmetic or just a surface change, but suggests something that changed the very appearance of the earth. In addition, while only one city (Moroni) is described as being sunk in the ocean, there are others covered with water, for the cities of Onihah, Mocum and Jerusalem “and waters have I caused to come up in the stead thereof” (3 Nephi 9:5), which gives us at least four cities that were covered with water. The city of Gilgal was buried in the earth, as was the cities of Gadiandi, Gadiomnah, Jacob, and Gimgimmo were buried in the ground or covered with earth or both (2 Nephi 9:6,8). And two of these cities the Lord called “great,” evidently being quite large with many people living in them.

The three main types of fault motion. Note that all movement alters the face of the land by dropping or raising the solid block formations beneath the surface

5. “In fact the Book of Mormon uses the term "the whole face of the land was changed" (3 Ne. 8:12). We believe like many catastrophes the "face" was changed, not the entire continent.”

First of all, in Hebrew, the “whole face of the earth” is an idiom, meaning widespread, all over, covering the land, etc., and also used as such in the Bible. Secondly, the term “face” is not the only term used in the scriptural record to describe this cataclysm. Samuel the Lamantie said of this: “Yea, at the time that he shall yield up the ghost there shall be thunderings and lightnings for the space of many hours, and the earth shall shake and tremble; and the rocks which are upon the face of this earth, which are both above the earth and beneath, which ye know at this time are solid, or the more part of it is one solid mass, shall be broken up;” (Helaman 14:21).

Now, in geology, the earth’s crust is believed to be about 20 to 30 miles thick, and composed of a great variety of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. Beneath the crust is the mantle, the upper part composed mostly of peridotite, a coarse-grained igneous rock, which is denser than rocks overlying the crust. In creating a mountain, it is usually produced by the movement of lithospheric plates, either orogenic movement (folding and faulting uplifts), or epeirogenic movement (uplift or depression of a very large area). The compressional forces, isostatic (equilibrium) uplift and intrusion of igneous matter forces surface rock upward, creating a landform higher than the surrounding features.

The absolute heights of features termed mountains vary greatly according to an area's terrain, but major mountains tend to occur in long linear arcs, indicating tectonic plate boundaries and activity. Two types of mountain are formed depending on how the rock reacts to the tectonic forces—block mountains or fold mountains. From Samuel’s description, the mountains “whose height is great” would suggest block mountains, which are created when large areas are widely broken up by faults creating large vertical displacements. These in turn create both horsts (raisings) and grabens (lowerings) of the earth’s crust.

This also meets Samuel’s comment about where mountains would become valleys and valleys would become mountains. He also told us that: “Yea, they shall be rent in twain, and shall ever after be found in seams and in cracks, and in broken fragments upon the face of the whole earth, yea, both above the earth and beneath” (Helaman 14:22). These sheer faces might also be described as a “hanging wall” (that above the surface) and a “footwall” (that below the surface). It also meets Zenos’ comment about the “opening of the earth,” and “by mountains that will be carried up”---note the plural term “mountains.”

These large faults within the Earth's crust result from the action of tectonic forces, with the energy released with rapid movement on active faults being the cause of most earthquakes, such as occurs on the San Andreas Fault. Rocks, of course, that do not fault (fracture), tend to fold resulting in anticlines (upward) or synclines (downward), which is a gentler uplifting of the crust. As a side note, anyone studying the Andes Mountains of South America, tends to identify these sheer cliff faces in much the same language of “seams and cracks and broken fragments.”

With the rocks being broken up, and “one solid mass” being broken up, both above and below the earth, it would seem that Samuel was describing a tremendous force that would change much of the topography, for when rocks are broken beneath the earth, all sorts of tectonic activity takes place which then pushes and sinks, changing the terrain considerably. When we consider that this lasted for three hours, the resulting effects on the land would be staggering. Such an activity changed the entire face of the west coast of Mexico, splitting of the Baja Peninsula and forming a very large sea. While it is true people thereafter could still see the two lands—it was considerably different and not merely a face change.

In addition, when Nephi describes a three-day darkness, one is drawn to a conclusion that this was probably the smoke, debris and ash from numerous volcanoes erupting over a very large area. Such activity also creates mountains. These volcanic mountains are formed when molten rock (magma) deep within the earth, erupts, and piles upon the surface. Magna is called lava when it breaks through the earth's crust. When the ash and lava cools, it builds a cone of rock. Rock and lava pile up, layer on top of layer.

(See the next post, “The Island of South America – Part III,” for the rest of this theorists points that are inaccurate and not consistent with the scriptures)

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