Saturday, September 15, 2012

Groanings and Moanings of the Earth Described by Nephi

As geologist John Milne wrote in Earthquakes and Other Earth Movements: “The thunder seems to shake the earth, since the sound always appears to come from the ground beneath the observer." In the 8.6 Assam-Tibet earthquake of 1950, as recorded in The Day the Earth Exploded, “One thing is stressed in all the reports: the awful rumble that heralded the outbreak of the quake…a deafening roar, louder than anything any of the witnesses had ever heard before."
Earthquakes are often preceded by subterranean noises, announcing the catastrophe to come. First there is the dull rumble that reminds one of distant thunder, swelling in volume, then diminishing, then swelling again, as if some storm were beginning to break far beneath the earth's surface. At this sound, so full of mysterious menace, everyone falls silent, mute with fear, and every face turns pale.

Henri Fabre, in The Earth is Ours, writes: “The noise increases and one seems to hear a long line of wagons, heavily laden with old iron, rumbling over a hollow roadway of brass, while a whole battery of cannon is discharged. And then the ground trembles, rises and falls, whirls round, opens and a frightful abyss yawn before the terrified observer. In the presence of such scenes, the stoutest heart is panic-stricken.”

South of Guatemala beneath all of Central America southward from Honduras to Panama, is the tectonic Caribbean Plate that extends to the east beneath the northern coast of South America where it butts into the South American Plate, covering an area 1.2 million square miles. To the north is the huge North American Plate (47 million square miles), and to the west, is the Cocoas Plate (1.7 million square miles). The Cocoas Plate is created by sea floor spreading along the East Pacific Rise and the Cocos Ridge in what is called the Cocos-Nazca spreading system. From the rise the plate is pushed eastward under the less dense overriding Caribbean Plate, in the process called subduction.  

This Caribbean Plate occupies a position between two major plates—the North American Plate  and South American Plates (27 million square miles), which are dominated by continental masses. This fact has controlled part of the lengthy evolution of the Caribbean plate and the surface Great Arc of the Caribbean.
In turn, the Caribbean Plate is being shoved southward below the South American Plate, causing enormous pressures along the northern Andes fault. At the same time, the Cocos Plate, as it moves eastward beneath the West Coast of Mexico and Central America, is placing pressure on an arm of the Nazca Plate (9.7 million square miles) and squeezing it between the Cocoas and South American Plates beneath the Peruvian, Ecuadorian and Colombian area of the South American Plate.

All of this has been causing plate activity along the North Andes fault line and the Caribbean Plate border, where four plates come together, bringing about enormous rumblings in the earth noticeable to people in the area.

Recently, in a geology work on tectonic plates, this type of rumblings was described as, “they are but rumblings of the larger South American Plate roll to come. Those living along the border of South America and the hapless Caribbean Plate will experience great groanings, moaninsg and grinding while the South American Plate glides over the Caribbean Plate, pushing it down with its weight as it does so. Such a gliding action does have catch points where the plates are not smooth, and hesitation and jerking with a sudden release occurs, a type of earthquake that seems to last for most of an hour.” [emphasis added]

It is interesting that this description is so reminiscent of several scriptural comments about the events that were to take place, and did, in the Land of Promise.

1. According to the words of Zenos, which he spake concerning the three days of darkness, which should be a sign given of his [Christ’s] death unto those who should inhabit the isles of the sea, more especially given unto those who are of the house of Israel. For thus spake the prophet: The Lord God surely shall visit all the house of Israel at that day, some with his voice, because of their righteousness, unto their great joy and salvation, and others with the thundergins 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. And all these things must surely come, saith the prophet Zenos. And the rocks of the earth must rend; and because of the groanings of the earth, many of the kings of the isles of the sea shall be wrought upon by the Spirit of God, to exclaim: The God of nature suffers” (1 Nephi 19:10-12) [emphasis added]

2. “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; 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 14:21)

3. “And it came to pass that thus did the three days pass away. And it was in the morning, and the darkness dispersed from off the face of the land, and the earth did cease to tremble, and the rocks did cease to rend, and the dreadful groanings did cease, and all the tumultuous noises did pass away” (3 Nephi 10:9) [emphasis added]

4. For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her, and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand” (D&C 88:89). [emphasis added]

It seems obvious that the unique plate movement along the northern Andean Fault, covering Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and western Bolivia—the area of the Land of Promise—matches so well the cause of the groanings and moanings of the Earth described before, during and after the events in 3 Nephi. This area, far south of Mesoamerica, and centered in the northwestern half of South America, has recorded plate activity and the resultant horrific noises this makes, as described by geologists, that matches what we find in the scriptural record.

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