Sunday, July 19, 2015

Land of Many Waters and Fountains – Part II

Continuing from the last post about where the Land of Many Waters was located within the Land of Promise. 
    First of all, the Land of Many Water was located in the Land Northward (Helaman 3:3-4).
    Secondly, it was an “exceeding great distance” (Helaman 3:4), into the Land Northward beyond the narrow neck of land.
    Third, in speaking of the Old Jaredite Lands and the numerous comments about it being a land of many waters, i.e., lakes with impressive rivers and noticeable fountains that Mormon saw and wrote about, the first reference is listed in Mosiah. Here we find king Limhi sending an expedition of 43 men, Nephites from the land of Lehi-Nephi, whose grandparents had lived in Zarahemla, to find that city and request help from the Nephite kingdom in their rescue from their Lamanite overseers. Instead, of course, they found a strange land far to the north. "...having traveled in a land among many waters, having discovered a land which was covered with bones of men..." (Mosiah 8:8).
    From this point on in the scriptures we find numerous references to this Land Northward—that is, a land beyond (or northward of) the narrow neck of land which was the terminus of the known Nephite kingdom until the last century B.C., as Mormon tells us in his insert into the abridgement of Alma (Alma 22:27-34).
    This means that in the Land of Promise we should find a land of many waters, rivers, lakes and fountains far to the north, near what would be the terminus of that ancient land, or island as Jacob called it (2 Nephi 10:20). It is interesting that several theorists claim this land of many waters in their models:
The eleven Finger Lakes, the largest, Cayuga and Seneca, are among the deepest in the United States, both are close to 40 miles from end to end, and never more than 3.5 miles wide
1. Phyllis Carol Olive in her Great Lakes model uses the Finger Lakes in the west-central section of upstate New York; however, these waters did not form from fountains (springs) but originated as a series of northward-flowing streams, when scouring glaciers anciently moved southward from the Hudson Bay area, widening and deepening the existing river valleys. Glacial debris left behind by the receding ice, acted as dams, allowing lakes to form. Despite the deep erosion of the valleys, the surrounding uplands show little evidence of glaciation, suggesting that the ice was thin, or at least unable to cause much erosion at these higher altitudes. The deep cutting by the ice left some tributaries hanging high above the lakes—both Seneca and Cayuga have tributaries hanging as much as 400 feet above the valley floors. While these “lakes” were originally rivers, there are no “fountains,” or springs, in the area that feed the many waters here.
2. Other theorists have used the Great Lakes overall as their land of many waters, referring to the lakes themselves as those many waters. However, once again, the Great Lakes, which are large enough to be called “seas” in the scriptural context (Sea of Galilee, Dead Sea, etc.). The problem, however, is that there are no springs, i.e., fountains, for these lakes and waters all come from runoff, with rivers feeding the Great Lakes throughout the Great Lakes Drainage Basin, originating many miles to the north in Canada.
    In addition, we need to keep in mind that the term “land of many waters,” is both a description of an area and a name of an area. In the scriptural record, the term “land of” always refers to a specific area. As an example, the term “land of” is used 220 times in the book of Alma, 210 of those times specifically naming a land, such as the land of Zarahemla, land of Minon, land of Nephi, etc. Ten times it is used to mention a specific, but overall land, such as “land of our forefathers,” “land of their inheritance,” “land of our first inheritance,” “land of your possessions,” “land of our first possessions,” “land of promise,” “land of liberty,” “land of the Zoramites,” and twice mentioned as “land of the Lamanites.”
    Therefore, the land of many waters is a name, as well as descriptive, but a name first and foremost. As for descriptive, we know that this land has “many waters” in it, which would suggest such a title be given to a land where numerous individual bodies of water are located. It is also described as having rivers, thus we should find an area that has many bodies of water, and numerous rivers. Lastly, the area is described as having “fountains.”
Rainfall (precipitation, including snow melt) provides most of the inflow to the Great Lakes. Mile winters with little rainfall results in a large drop of water levels and  raises the water levels significantly
     The word “fountains,” often ignored by Theorists because they are not found in their models, is not only an unusual word to use when describing an area or region of natural land, it also has a very specific meaning. A “fountain” is the “source” of water in a natural state, i.e., a spring, geyser, or upwelling of water out of the earth, out of the aquifer, which then initially creates, lakes, streams, rivers, waterfalls, etc. The term "fountains" does not apply to rainfall, snow or ice melt, nor rivers. A fountain is an upwell of water from beneath the earth, creating a source of water that may be a lake or a river or some type of runoff. The Great Lakes, as an example, are not known to be fed by fountains, but by mostly precipitation (rainfall and snow melt) as well as river runoff.
    In our modern world, we typically think of rivers and lakes forming from ice and snow melt, or rain, and anciently from glaciers—in fact, it is commonly believed that most lakes in the Northern Hemisphere were formed by glaciers that covered large areas of land during the most recent ice age a few thousand years ago, which carved out great pits and scrubbed the land as they moved slowly along. When the glaciers melted, water filled those depressions, forming lakes. Glaciers also carved deep valleys and deposited large quantities of earth, pebbles and boulders as they melted (moraine), which in term sometimes formed dams that trapped water and created more lakes. It is claimed that most lakes in North America, including the Great Lakes, were created primarily by glaciers.
    Limnologists also tell us that lakes are maintained from these same factors, rain and snow, as well as fed by streams and rivers. Mature rivers often wind back and forth across a plain in wide loops called meanders, and during periods of flooding, a swollen, rushing river may create a shortcut and bypass a meander, leaving a body of standing water, called an “oxbow lake.” Lakes can also be created by landslides, mudslides, rock falls, etc., which cause natural dams that block the flow of a stream, forming a lake.
Large bodies of water, like ponds and lakes can be formed by fountains, i.e., upwelling or underwater springs that feed into a basin until it reaches its flow height and is then maintained in this manner. Top: This lake is being fed constantly from (yellow arrows) underground springs—Pruess Laqke is a spring-fed lake in the arid Snake Valley of Utah; Bottom: If the volume of the spring is sufficient, it creates a noticeable movement (white arrow) on the surface
    A spring may be the result of karst topography where surface water has infiltrated the Earth’s surface (through the dissolution of soluble rocks), becoming part of the area groundwater or aquifer. The groundwater then travels through a network of cracks and fissure—openings ranging from intergranular spaces to large caves. The water eventually emerges from below the surface, in the form of a karst spring (which usually have a very large discharge).
    The forcing of the spring to the surface can be the result of a confined aquifer in which the recharge area of the spring water table rests at a higher elevation than that of the outlet. When the spring water forced to the surface by elevated sources, they are called artesian wells. This is possible even if the outlet is in the form of a 300-foot-deep cave. In this case the cave is used like a hose by the higher elevated recharge area of groundwater to exit through the lower elevation opening.
    Non-artesian springs may simply flow from a higher elevation through the earth to a lower elevation and exit in the form of a spring, using the ground like a drainage pipe. Still other springs are the result of pressure from an underground source in the earth, in the form of volcanic activity. The result can be water at elevated temperature such as a hot spring.
    The point is, when Mormon wrote that this area had fountains, he was referring to the sources of the water in this region—a land which he called “the land of many waters.” Obviously, such a description as Mormon uses will not just fit any place that happens to have a lot of water, such as the Great Lakes. Thus, it is important to keep in mind when reading the scriptural record, what is written and why that specific language is used.
(See the next post, “Land of Many Waters and Fountains – Part III,” to see exactly where these waters were located and still exist, which fit completely Mormon’s descriptions of the area)

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