Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Rising of South America--Part I

Was most of South America once underwater? Most people think not. However, scientists, geologists, oceanographers, etc., claim that it was. About three million square miles of the present continent, once called Amazonia, and now called the Amazon Drainage Basin, is barely above current sea level.

Amazon River Basin covers an extensive area of the entire South American continent. Today, this area is barely above sea level, and in the recent past, was submerged beneath the ocean surface
At one time, much of the eastern portion of South America was underwater--even today, the entire Amazon Basin, an area 2,720,000 square miles, is almost totally submerged, and during the rainy season, six months of the year, is flooded from one end to the other, forming small islands and strings of land.
The flat earth of the Amazon Basin which is totally flooded for six months of every year
Most people who simply see all continents the same and each hundreds to thousands of feet above sea level, cannot conceive that South America was once mostly underwater. It is simply something out of their thinking pattern that such an occurrence could ever happen. Yet, Oceanographers and geologists agree that a dramatic, rapid rise of water occurred several thousand years ago.  This has slowed to about 1.5 feet per century today, but for the past 4000 years, the world’s sea level has been inching up.
In fact, most of the continental shelf, which marks the true boundaries between the ocean basins and the continental areas, now lies under a mean depth of 430 feet of water. (It ranges from 300 feet to about 1,500 feet.) The present continental shelf defines the edge of the oceans as they developed during the post-Flood glacial peak.  With the ice melt and the draining or evaporation of inland basins, the seas rose, with minor fluctuations, to their present level. 
 “The ocean basins can thus be characterized as overfull – water not only fills the ocean basins proper, but extends out over the low margins of the continents.”  So notes a panel of geologists made up of J.V. Trumbull, John Lyman, J.F. Pepper and E.M. Thompson,  in the paper “An Introduction to the Geology and Mineral resources of the Continental Shelves of the Americas,” U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1067, 1958, p.11.
The entire Amazon Basin slopes downward from the Andes in the West to the Atlantic in the East, dropping only a few hundred feet in over 4000 miles
For a continent that is mostly flat and barely above sea level today for most of its interior, advancing seas could play havoc with its inland areas. The point is, continents are not stable--they move, their tectonic plates shift, subduct and expand through seafloor spreading. GPS shows that plate motion vectors indicate direction and magnitude of motion resulting from the Earth’s lithosphere being a higher strength and lower density than the underlying asthenosphere. This convection and upwelling alters the convergent boundaries of the continental plates.
While this happens over long periods of time today, there is no reason to believe that at times in the past this movement was not faster and more dynamics, such as during the Flood and at the time of the Savior’s crucifixion in 3 Nephi describing a drastically changing structure, where mountains rose “whose height is great,” cities sunk into the sea, huge mounds covered over cities, solid rock above and beneath the Earth became cracked and broken.
Consider that around the world’s coastlines are undersea river canyons, which were once above the ocean.  Such canyons cannot be cut underwater; the submerged Hudson Canyon, one hundred miles long and hundreds of feet deep, could only have been formed above water when this extension of the Hudson River was dry land; off the coast of Europe are the Loire, Rhone, Seine and Tagus canyons.  The drowned Rhine Valley runs under the North Sea to disappear between Norway and Scotland – showing that the North Sea was dry land; numerous other canyons were cut at the edge of the former ocean basin (now submerged) : La Plata in Argentina, the Delaware and St. Lawrence in North America, the Congo in West Africa.  Off the African west coast are submerged river canyons whose rivers no longer exist in the now-arid land. All these canyons were cut out above water.  Now they are submerged.
Charles Darwin crossed the Andes through the Portillo Pass in March, 1835, from Santiago, Chile, to Mendoza, Argentina, and back.  The round trip took 24 days and during that time he became convinced that Argentina was once submerged beneath the Atlantic Ocean.  He saw fossilized seashells as high as 13,000 feet, as well as petrified coastal trees on the Argentina slope.  As a result, he became convinced that the Andes had been upheaved in mass from sea level to their present lofty heights.  He identified these coastal trees as once being on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, then 700 miles distant to the east.
Only headhunters and Cannibals existed east of the Andes when the Spanish conquistadors arrived
The early Spanish conquistadors were amazed that no advanced civilization of any kind existed east of the Andes mountains. In all their searches and settlements, they found little more than headhunters and cannibals, completely opposite of the much older, advanced civilizations they found along the west coastal areas. They wrote about the eastern lands being either an area that early man knew nothing about, or that it was a newer land than that that west of the Andes. Christopher Columbus, upon seeing the northeast area of the continent and explored what he called the Folfo de la Ballena, Gulf of the Whale, the present Gulf of Paria, and also the Orinoco River Delta, Tobago, Trinidad and what is now the east Venezuelan coast, described the entire area as a new continent.
 (See the next post, “The Rising of South America--Part II, for more on the fact that much of South America was once under water)

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