Thursday, October 9, 2014

Changing Land of Promise—Part XV – This Changing Earth

South America popped up out of the sea? Unbelievable! That doesn’t seem credible. The Andes rose 2000 years ago? Not believable! And so the comments we’ve received have gone on the idea that South America was once a much smaller island and the location of the Land of Promise. 
    However, we live on a changing planet, with parts of our known world having been, at different times, much altered from what we see today and, in many cases, what most people think always existed.
    In fact, today well over seventy percent of our planet is covered by water, but this was not always the case. During the last ice age, massive ice sheets covered portions of the northern and southern hemispheres, and when the massive ice sheets melted, they released the water locked inside them – enough to make the seas rise by about 390 feet, according to Waelbroeck et al (2002), Schneider von Deimling et al (2006) and Stefan Rahmstorf (2007). In fact, geologists all agree that at one time the Gulf of Mexico did not exist, and that later it was formed into its seven main areas of today with the rise of sea level.
    A case in point is that fifteen thousand years ago in geologic time, when humans first settled in Florida, the shoreline of the Gulf of Mexico was one hundred miles farther to the west. Deep springs and catchment basins, such as Warm Mineral Springs, were honeycombed among the coastal areas, and as the glaciers slowly melted, a more temperate climate began to advance northward through Florida. Sea levels began rising, ultimately some 350 feet, resulting in the Florida shoreline of today, which obviously provided attractive locations for human settlements.
    Archaeological research along the west coastal area shows occupation of more than ten thousand years by seasonal native peoples. For five thousand years while the current sea level existed, fishing in Sarasota Bay seems to be the primary source of protein and large mounds of discarded shells and fish bones attest to the prehistoric human settlements that existed along the coast.
Green area shows the current outline of the Gulf coast of the U.S. and Mexico; the light blue shows the shelf that now extends just beneath the surface outward into the Gulf, in some cases (around Florida [yellow arrow] and the Yucatan [red arrow]) it is 100 miles in width and was the ancient shoreline; the darker blue shows the Gulf as it was 15,000 years ago, and is now referred to as the Sigsbee Deep
    According to the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, as reported in the ScienceDaily (2003), a forest of trees ten miles from the Alabama shore, buried sixty feet beneath the surface, attest to an earlier extended shoreline 8,000 to 14,000 years ago, where a clearly marked river once flowed and is now buried beneath the sea. This once exposed, now underwater shelf, contains several named areas, such as the Rio Grande, Colorado, Brazos, Trinity, Sabine, Calcasieu, and Mississippi along the Texas and Louisiana coastlines, now part of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. According to LeBlanc and Hodgson (1959), “the sea level was once 450 feet lower than at present, and the Gulf shoreline was probably 50 to 150 miles seaward of the present.” A.C. Trowbridge (1954) added that “a net uplift of the land of the East Gulf Coastal Plain relative to sea level is indicated” and “thought to have been caused by tectonic causes.”
The Bald Cypress forest off the coast of Mobile, Alabama was buried under ocean sediments, but evidently uncovered by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, with stumps between six and eight feet in diameter, and rings indicating the forest lived for over 2000 years before the sea level rise buried it
    In addition, post-glacial rebound (sometimes called continental rebound, glacial isostasy, glacial isostatic adjustment) is the rise of land masses that were depressed by the huge weight of ice sheets during the last glacial period, through a process down as isostasy. It affects northern Europe, Siberia, Canada, the Great Lakes, the coastal region of the US state of Maine, parts of Patagonia (South America) and Antarctica.
    Some islands in the Pacific have already fallen beneath the sea, such as Kiribati, made up of 32-low-lying atolls and one raised island, where most of the population has already moved to one island, Tarawam, after the rest of their land disappeared beneath the ocean; 425,000 people are threatened in the 1,100 islands of the Maldives, west of India, where a rise of just three feet would bury the entire nation. Seychelles, the Torres Straight Islands, Micronesia, Palau, Carteret Islands, and Tuvalu are all island nations that are facing rising seas, while Tegua and the Solomon Islandes face not only rising seas, but these islands are also sinking.
    On the other hand, some parts of Scandinavia the land is rising out of the sea. Along the coasts of Finland, Sweden and even parts of Canada, the land is actually rising. This land is rising fast enough for people to notice newly emerged patches of rocks and marsh reeds. The visible land uplift has been measured at ten inches in thirty years, a remarkable rise of land by geologic standards. At the same time the east coast of the United States, from southern Maine to Florida, is sinking, very noticeably around Norfolk, Virginia, and on a rapid time scale according to scientists. On the other side of the world, Bangkok is slowly sinking and by the year 2100, is likely to sink completely, threatening the city of 10 million people.
Left: U.S. East Coast; Right: Bangkok
    There is no question that all geologists recognize that the land forms we now know and understand did not always exist in the configuration we now see them, and some not seen at all until they rose out of the sea. It may be difficult for modern man to get his mind around such events, but rest assured they did happen, perhaps not like geology claims, but obviously as the scriptural record indicates. Such change has always existed, but as man expands his living spaces, they are now seen as catastrophic events that threaten thousands to millions of lives and often blamed on man’s living patterns, such as “climate change,” though that is merely one group's opinion.
    The point is, whatever the cause, land has risen and sunk into the seas since the beginning of time, and likely will continue. The reason for mentioning it here is to show skeptics that such changes not only occur, but have occurred in the past, changing the landscape and topography of land and continents in the past.
    Consequently, when the Lord tells us that mountains of “great height” came up at the time of the crucifixion, and Jacob tells us they were on an island, and we can find an island that geologically existed in the past and has tall mountains, we might want to consider a possible location for the Land of Promise. Then all we need to do is take a look at the 31 descriptions Mormon wrote about in the scriptural record (previous posts just before and actually part of this series—beginning September 15, 2014, “Comparing Various Lands of Promise with the Scriptures-Part I”), we may just find where Lehi landed. Certainly, it is worth a second look.
An example showing that as the Andes mountains came up--called the Andean Uplift--the sea to the East of the Land of Promise was pushed back into the outer sea (Atlantic Ocean) through the North, East and South Portal Seaways
    In any event, it shouldn’t be ruled out simply because we have a hard time thinking of South America once underwater and then rising up out of the sea at the time the Andes rose and the tectonic plates pushed those mountains up to great heights. Certainly the changes that have occurred throughout the history of this world over the past 13,000 years is something to consider.
(See the next post, “Changing Land of Promise—Part XVI and Lehi’s Isle in 33 A.D.”)

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