Thursday, August 30, 2012

How Could Frederick G. Williams Have Known…?

The idea that in the 1830s, Frederick G. Williams jotted down a comment that Lehi landed at the 30º South Latitude in Chile, is so out of the ordinary, that it cannot be passed off as mere doodling. As has been stated in the past few posts, there is no way Williams, or anyone else in Kirtland, Ohio, could have known all the things that make this area so usual, and so factual to the scriptural record.

After all, the 30º South Latitude, which would mark the southern boundary of the Land of Promise if Williams is correct, includes:

1. One of only five climates in the entire world—only two of which are in the Western Hemisphere (the other in Southern California)—where “seeds from Jerusalem” would have “grown exceedingly” and provided an “abundant crop.” (1 Nephi 18:24)

How could he have known?

2. This area is the world’s leading producer of copper, almost five times greater than the second country, the United States, and the third country, Peru, and out-produces by far the five next countries combined, producing just over 1/3 of the world’s copper production. (1 Nephi 18:25)

3. Chile is the seventh largest silver producing country in the world, with Peru is the largest in the world. Combined, Peru and Chile out-produce the second largest country, Mexico, 165.7 million ounces to 104.7 million, and the third largest producer, China, by two-to-one. (1 Nephi 18:25; 2 Nephi 5:15)

4. Chile is the seventh largest gold producer in the world, and Peru is the 6th largest gold producting country. (1 Nephi 18:25; 2 Nephi 5:15)

How could Williams have known?

5. Just north of the claimed Lehi landing site is the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world. It extends for 600 miles, from the Peru-Chile border to just above 30º South Latitude. And north of that is the Peruvian Sechura Desert. The Atacama Desert is so desolate it has been proclaimed by NASA a Mars-like environment, and they train there for a future Mars landing.

The Atacama Desert of Chile is a virtually rainless plateau, running from the Pacific Ocean to the Andes Mountains. The average width is less than 100 miles but it extends 600 miles south from the Peruvian border. The mountains nearest the ocean are the Pacific coastal range, with an average elevation of 2500 feet. The Cordillera Domeyko, a range of foothills of the Andes Mountains, lies east. The Atacama is made up of salt basins (salars) sand and lava flows

Just south of the claimed Lehi landing site the winters drop to about 25º F, the humidity ranges in the 80% to 90%, average rainy days is between 15 and 24 days a month, and in some areas movement is only by boat because of the numerous rivers and waterways. Further south the coast is a labyrinth of fjords inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands.

The southern coast of Chile presents a large number of fjords and fjordlike channels from the latitudes of Cape Horn of (55° S) to Reloncavi Estuary (42° S). These fjords have served as a natural barrier preventing north-south land travel in Chilean Patagonia without passing trough Argentina, and a difficult coastal barrier to settlement.

Only the area of the 30º South Latitude along the entire Chilean coast would have provided an emigrant colony in 600 B.C. with a landing site, location for a community, survival temperature and climate, and soil for growing crops.

How did Williams know?

6. Along this coastal area runs the Humboldt Current, named after Baron Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt, an early 19th century Prussian geographer, naturalist and explorer. This cold, low-salinity ocean current flows north-westward along the west coast of South America, from the southern tip of Chile to northern Peru, and extends as much as 600 miles offshore. The Current which sweeps northwards from the Antarctic, is pushed by the Southeast trade winds, and has a mean temperature of 60º F. Along its path, the cold nutrient rich waters surface from a depth of over 300 feet. These cold waters cool the air above them, producing a temperature inversion—that is, instead of the air gradually cooling with increased elevation, as is the norm, the air at, and above the ocean surface, is cooler than that above, thus a temperature inversion occurs.

The Humboldt Current flows northward along the continent’s edge. When it runs into the steep continental shelf, it dredges up cold, nutrient-rich water from the ocean floor and brings it to the surface. The nutrients support abundant microscopic life, which in turn supports a chain of ever-larger creatures. Fishing vessels reel in tens of thousands of tons of fish every year, such as anchovies, sardines, and mackerel--up to one-fifth of all the fish caught in the entire world

This provides two very important results: 1) the temperature along the coast and inland to the Andes, is generally pleasant throughout the year, and 2) brings upward a fish-rich environment that makes fishing along the coast an easy and most successful way to have provided food for the Lehi Colony until their crops grew. (1 Nephi 18:24)

How could Williams have known?

7. In this area from the 30º South Latitude northward (the movement of the Nephites as they expanded from the Land of First Inheritance to the Land of Nephi, then to the Land of Zarahemla, and then to the Land of Bountiful and finally into the Land Northward), was basically unknown in the eastern United States during Joseph Smith’s time. As a result, several things existed there to which Joseph had no knowledge and no language to explain or name as he read about them on the plates.

• Two animals that Joseph could not name and had to use the names as they appeared in the scriptural record: the curelom and cumom (Ether 9:19);
• Two grains that Joseph could not name and had to use the names as they appeared in the scriptural record: neas and sheum (Mosiah 9:9);
• A plant provided by the lord for the curing of fever that was unknown, as well as its medicinal product: cinchona tree and quinine (Alma 46:40)
• That the area of first landing had the same climate and vegetation zone, desertic soils, brown soil group, and duplicate temperature and precipitation as that of Jerusalem—the only place in the world outside of the Mediterranean Sea that matches exactly, where their seeds would grow exceedingly: Mediterranean Climate (1 Nephi 18:24)

How could Williams have known?

(See the next post: more of what Williams did not know about the 30º South Latitude in Chile, but match the Book of Mormon Land of Promise descriptions)

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