Monday, April 25, 2016

Lively Discussion – Part II

Continuing from the previous post with the lively discussion in the comments section of our April 9, 2016, article “Cajamarca: The City of Bountiful – Part I,” and the several points brought up to which we are responding: 
    Comment #6: “In the case of terraces too high to utilize planting, my point was that as the water receded, hauling the water to the higher terraces became more difficult, so lower terraces were used. There may be some overlap between these two reasons for higher terraces being unused and/or unusable.“
    Response: It took a long time to haul rock and place it, then back fill to level out a terrace. The work involved of hauling rocks and then dirt should have been sufficient to suggest to the builders that hauling water would then be an eternal requirement—so it would not have been a surprise to them that hauling water to the same height (an easier prospect than hauling heavy rock and dirt) and that it should not have been a later determent. In addition, the reason for building higher terraces is because the lower terraces had reached a maximum in their use and purpose, requiring additional terracing. So in neither cause would it make sense to leave them unused after building them—the populations increase, not decline, thus the need would have increased for more terracing, not less.
In an aerial view it is easy to see how the lands from the east were pushed upward toward the west, taking with it the Altiplano in which Titicaca lies, raising it several thousand feet in elevation and lifting some of the terraced corn fields above the growth line
    An example of how this might have happened is found in the corn fields on the sides of mountains rising above Lake Titicaca. The highest of these terraces, which by the way date older than the lower terraces at Titicaca, will not germinate nor grow corn, which only germinates and grow up to a certain altitude. Yet numerous terraced fields show signs of once growing corn, but now are at an altitude where corn will not grow.
    As a side note, the lower altitude terraces where corn could still grow are even at a level above Lake Titicaca. This means that the "pre-historic" peoples cultivating corn "lived" in the area "before" and "after" the numerous necessarily cataclysmic crustal deformations and uplifts that raised the Andes. Obviously, the cataclysmic uplifts caused the terraces where the corn "was" successfully cultivated to be raised to an altitude where the corn would not grow. As the mountains rose cataclysmically the peoples terraced their cornfields successively lower down the mountainsides. 
    In addition, there is a stone causeway leading "out" of Lake Titicaca, which has been speculated by some of archaeologists that the area used to be at sea level and the causeway led out to the Pacific ocean. The causeway now leads out of the lake to nowhere at 9,000  feet altitude. At the same time, there are stone ruins more ancient than the stone causeway leading out of Lake Titicaca, and are buried under six feet of sediment on the shallow bottom of the lake. The sediment contains pre-historic sea shell fossils, and there is not enough topsoil on the peaks surrounding Titicaca to have eroded down and covered these ancient ruins with six feet of sediment.
    Comment #7: "There are today tilted terraces used anciently for farming that are now too high to farm." Some claim it is because Lake Titicaca has shrank, and lower terraces were built closer to the water table.”
The ruins of Tiahuanaco and Puma Punku are southeast of Lake Titicaca just east of Peru over the border into Bolivia and very likely the Land of Ishmael in the Land of Nephi of the Land of Promise
    Response: First, the ruins of the ancient city of Tiahuanaco are 12 miles south of Lake Titicaca, and sits at 13,300 feet elevation, placing it 800 feet above the present lake. In the fringe area of Puma Punku, there are huge wharfs and docks that have caused archaeologists to claim that Tiahuanaco once nestled along the lake’s shore—but now, the massive fallen stones which were used to build this massive city lie scattered about, having at one time been tossed about like popcorn in a skillet, reminding one of Mormon’s abridged comment: “many were shaken till the buildings thereof had fallen to the earth” (3 Nephi 8:14), and the Lord’s comment: “And many great destructions have I caused to come upon this land, and upon this people, because of their wickedness and their abominations” (3 Nephi 9:12), and Samuel’s words: “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” (Helaman 14:21). And also of the type of destruction caused by an earthquake that lasted three hours (3 Nephi 8:19), resulting in “the rocks were rent in twain; they were broken up upon the face of the whole earth, insomuch that they were found in broken fragments, and in seams and in cracks, upon all the face of the land” (3 Nephi 8:18). Obviously, pieces of giant stone structures would have been tossed about like popcorn in a skillet.
    These scattered stones are so large that even today, it would be a technological marvel to take them from the mountainous quarry they were brought from, fifty miles away.
    The stone wharfs that are now broken and tossed about, suggest a violent ancient upheaval and it has been estimated that they were once of a size to handle as many as 100 ships docking, making the city once a bustling sea port. This, of course, suggests that the lake has receded at least 12 miles and dropped 800 feet.
Top Left: the fossil shell from an extinct air-breathing tortoise of the genus Chelonoidis, that cannot live above 164 feet; Top Right: Sea Shells on top of the Andes Mountains; Bottom Left: Fossilized sea shells found at Lake Titicaca; Bottom Right: Titicaca is today inhabited  by the only known freshwater seahorses, having once been sea water that evolved over time when the lake rose
    Around Lake Titicaca are all sorts of fossilized salt water shells and fish, suggesting the Altiplano was less than 2/3 of a mile in altitude at one time. Tortoise and turtle fossils, snakes as well as fossils of leaves and other animals support the suggestion (Journal of South American Sciences, 2015)
    Secondly, now called a fresh water lake, Titicaca was once a salt water sea, with its shoreline littered with millions of fossilized seashells. The marine fishes and seahorses in the lake, as well as other salt-water fauna, are all oceanic types found only in salt water. Researchers are convinced that these three-mile-high ruins once lay at sea level where a devastating earthquake could have torn the city asunder, lifting Tiwanaku and the lake to where they are now. How can this be proven? (For more on this, see our blog post of June 9, 2012, “Lake Titicaca’s Rise to its Present Height”).
    Thirdly, according to Mario M. Revollo (Lakes & Reservoirs Research and Management, “Management issues in the Lake Titicaca and Lake Poopo system: Importance of developing a water budget,” Vol 6 No 3, Wiley & Sons, 2001, pp225-229) almost all of the original salt water content of Lake Titicaca was drained from the lake after 1343 years of residence time (only three lakes in the world have longer residence or retention times). With limited feeder rivers and tilt-earth drainage, the Lake has not only shrunk in size through drainage, but also through extensive evaporation, causing the world’s largest salt flat as the water drained to the south along the Altiplano tableland, spreading out over the Desaguadero Basin, where it fed Lake Poopó (a saline lake) and Lake Urur Uru, and the Colpasa Salt Marsh in the wet years, but mainly evaporated, leaving the largest Salt Flat (Salar de Tunupa) in the world—over twenty-five times larger than Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah (Also, for more on this, see our blog post of June 9, 2012, “Lake Titicaca’s Rise to its Present Height”).
    In addition, it should be noted that Lake Titicaca is basically a closed lake, its body of water was much larger in the distant past, and encompassed areas today covered in salt flats and wasteland. Also, it is partially fed by rainfall and meltwater from glaciers on the sierras that abut the Altiplano. Five major river systems and more than twenty other smaller streams empty into the lake, though their relative flow volumes are basically equalized by the lake’s outflow and drainage, with a total annual inflow of 201 m3s-1, and 270 m3s-1 is added from precipitation on the lake. The Desaguadero receives water from several tributaries during its course and has a mean annual flow of 89 m3s-1 before bifurcating (dividing) to empty into Lake Poopó.
Top: As Lake Titicaca continues to lose its size, Lake Poopó, downstream, has evaporated over time, losing much of its water, and as it dries up, the salt that was once ocean salt in Lake Titicaca forms, covering the area in between; Bottom: Boater stands in his stranded fishing boat on a lake no longer with water
    Thus Titicaca, Desaguadero River and Lake Poopo System (or TDPS System) consists of the hydrographic basins of Lake Titicaca, which occupies 39% of the area; the Desaguadero River, which together with Lake Poopo covers 38%; and the Coipasa Salt Marsh basin, accounts for the rest, with the Desaguadero River links Lake Titicaca to lakes Urur Uru and Poopo. Having only a single season of free circulation, the lake is monomictic (deep water undergoing a single stratification and mixing cycle during the year), and water passes through Lago Huinaimarca and flows out the single outlet at the Rio Desaguadero, which then flows south through Bolivia to Lake Poopo. This only accounts for about 10% of the lake's water balance. Evapotranspiration (evaporation and transpiration from plants), caused by strong winds and intense sunlight at altitude, balances the remaining 90% of the water input.
    The point of all this is to show that Titicaca is not so much as a natural occurring high mountain lake, but as one that began anciently at a much lower level, where saline content was a major portion of the lake’s makeup. As an example, the salinity of water is measure in parts per thousand (ppt), that is how much salt exists in the water. Titicaca's waters are limpid and only brackish, with salinity ranging from 5.2 to 5.5 parts per 1,000. 3.0 is consider salty for freshwater, and 3.5 even more so, Lake Titicaca at over 5 parts per thousand is quite salty for a freshwater lake—according to the Office of Naval Research “fresh water” lakes are less than 1 part (0.5) per thousand—inland “fresh waters” are generally about 1 to 3 ppt. On the other hand, while rivers vary, an example would be: the Columbia River in Washington at 0.0023 ppt, to the Mississippi River at 0.025 ppt, to the Colorado River (Colorado) at 0.121 ppt to the Colorado River (California) at 0.343 ppt, though nowhere near as high as many hypersaline lakes or the oceans—though the Baltic Sea is 10 ppt, oceans are generally at 35 ppt.

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