Friday, October 14, 2016

Finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise – Part V

Continuing from the last post about finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise and the third point regarding where Nephi landed and what they found there, and specifically, the importance and significance of the ore he found adjacent to their landing site and, more importantly, how did Nephi know there was gold, silver and copper in the area of their first landing?    As Nephi wrote: “And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper” (1 Nephi 18:25).
    The question that sometimes comes to mind in reading this short passage is “how did Nephi know there was gold, and silver, and copper?” After all, he was not a geologist, he had no experience that we know of from the scriptural record that he knew what formations produced gold, or had experience digging in the ground for veins of gold, though he had at a young age dug for buried treasure, which in later years he referred to as frivolous and immaterial. Some have suggested that he used the “seer stone” to find the gold in the Land of Promise, but whether or not that occurred, the point here is that finding gold in undiscovered, virgin territory is not as hard as one might think.
    According to prospectors of the early 19th century America, only a few factors needed to be understood. And today, with greater knowledge and prospecting understanding, these early points have borne out to be factual.
Top: A dry ravine where gold is found along the bedrock of the once gushing water creek; Bottom Left: Vertical exposed cliff face, showing signs of gold and other metals; Bottom Right: An exposed gold vein along the surface

    First of all, gold tends to run along bedrock of streams and creeks or even dry ravines. One-time rushing water acts like a grinder through winter seasons during high flood, and breaks down all the material of rock, smashing their brittle quartz very and breaking it apart and releasing its content in form of load material. This creates placer deposits of gold and sometimes gemstones in the alluvial deposits along the creek beds or ravines.
    Originally, gold comes from hydrothermal vents, and metamorphic rocks with gold comes from reformation of old sedimentary deposits under heat and pressure. As rocks soften, they break down and curate more rapidly, while harder rocks that are more tightly welded curate over longer periods. It doesn’t take long to realize that certain telltale signs show great probability of gold, such as white lines running horizontally, corresponding to gold potentially injected into rock deposits via quartz stringers and cracks caused by hydrothermal venting through vents into the rock anciently showing in a belt of greenstone commonly known as serpentine.
Left Quartz stringers; Right: Serpentine rock with telltale gold deposits; neither are hard to identify once seen, and often on the surface of virgin creek beds and ravines

    Nephi tells us that “we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness,” (1 Nephi 18:25). As any person to a new, undiscovered and unknown environment would do, he and others spent some time exploring their surroundings, walking or journeying around the area. At such times, Nephi and the others saw traces of gold and silver as well as copper.
    It is also interesting that there are three types of rocks, igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic, and gold can be found in all of them. The difference among them has to do with how they are formed—igneous rocks are formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava; sedimentary, as an example, are formed from particles of sand, shells, pebbles and other fragments of material and together, all these particles are called sediment; and metamorphic rocks are created by the physical or chemical alteration by heat and pressure of an existing igneous or sedimentary material into a denser form. In fact, leftover gold-veined rocks often sit near the surface of the earth, making it possible to find as Nephi suggests they did.
Left: Quartz stringer—the red earth and black background and white stringer shows the host rock is deteriorating rapidly. Such signs are usually connected to gold deposits; Right: Quartz stringers showing very noticeable gold and silver deposits

    Quartz stringer indicates the host rock is basically deteriorating rapidly—sufides nearby and the acid helps erode the host material and the quartz itself, especially if purplish black magnamese is nearby. Pyrite part iron and part sulfur, sulfides turn into sulfuric acid, sometimes goes with copper and gold. Such signs are noticeable when looking for them, as anyone would do in a virgin location to see what the land might provide for the new colony.
Left: trace of (white arrow) gold in rock that could easily be missed without very careful looking; Right: However, overly flecked rock with gold traces is far more obvious, especially for those familiar with gold as Nephi and Sam would have been

    Had Nephi been more seriously looking for gold and silver, picking up rocks along a stream bed, dry ravine or other such places where rushing water once did its work in breaking down rock and separating heavier metals from it, whether they were looking for trinkets or wealth, it would have been easy to find for numerous types of rock in gold bearing areas—which Nephi describes adjacent to where they landed and set up their initial settlement—would probably have been plentiful.
Left: Gold and silver-bearing vein. The Gold vein is seen as the white quartz-calcite-adularia vein in the andesite. But also note all of the material to the left of the vein—this is a fault zone with quartz stringers and contains low grade gold values; Right: Note the iron stained (gossan) in the blue 
 serpentinite. Some serpentinites have gold, some platinum and palladium, some will have nickel

    Once finding traces of gold, Nephi and the others evidently did some serious digging to collect the easy-to-find deposits. They could have kept it simple by digging near a sign of gold for specimen-grade gold samples from veins and breccias. Although such samples with visible gold are rare and more valuable than the price of gold, if you have the right vein or ore shoot, they are worth pursuing. When ever you see gossans or tawny to brown limonite and goethite in quartz - look for visible gold! Gossans are something a person would need to learn to recognize.
    It is also interesting that Nephi writes that they found both gold, and silver, and copper, since these three metals are not that often found together, and in studies of Mesoamerica, not at all, yet in both Chile and Peru, the three metals are found in single ore.
Four samples of gold, silver and copper found in single ore

    The point is, even today in the southwestern U.S. prospectors are still finding unworked and unknown gold and silver deposits, some are bigger than one might think. For Nephi, in a virgin land where no one had been working precious ore to dig it out of the ground or even pick it up where it was and came to rest after the huge force of the Flood, Nephi reports that they found gold, silver and copper in great abundance. They may not even have been looking for it at first—they may have been hunting for food. But the point is, adjacent to the location where they landed and settled, they found a very large forest where beasts of every kind were located, as well as wild beasts. They also found plenty of ore—gold, silver and copper.
    All of this is located in the area of Chile, which is the world’s largest producer of Copper, almost five times more than second place China, and ten times more than tenth place Mexico, with Peru third; As for gold, Chile ranks 4th (after Australia, South Africa and Russia), Peru ranks 8th with Mexico 13th and about one-third that of Chile (the world’[s biggest gold-mining countries are: Argentina, Brazil and Chile with Mexico 16th); and as for Silver, Mexico is first in production, with Peru a close third and Chile 7th; however in silver reserves, Peru is first and Chile 4th, with Mexico 6th. In the Western Hemisphere, Chile and Peru are at the top of having gold, silver and copper; Mexico is not in the top ten of these three metal ores.
    When Nephi says they found gold, silver and copper, and Mormon describes both the Land North and the Land South (Chile and Peru) having an abundance of gold, no other area in all of the Western Hemisphere matches that description.
    In addition, it should be obvious that any location claimed to the the Land of Promise would have to have all these points adjacent to Lehi’s landing site covered in these first five posts of this series, and Mesoamerica none at all to speak of.

(See the next post, “Finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise – Part VI,” as to the two additional points Nephi covered besides those he discovered adjacent to his landing site)


  1. I love it when you talk like this. The thing that is amazing to me is the North American theorists claim that Nephi landed in Florida. None of these ores are found there and so their model collapses immediately upon critical scrutiny.

  2. At least one of the Florida models uses a land-risen area of the Gulf of Mexico-Caribbean Sea, which there is no geological model to support. In fact, the idea of the gulf and Caribbean is that it is like a teeter-totter, when the islands rose up to form solid ground, the western tilt (eastern coast of Mexico) sinks, and vice versa, which is a geological model and defeats the idea of any Book of Mormon model there

    1. Interesting. Geologically the coastal regions have been stable since the flood. The great thicknesses of limestone attest to that fact. All of these other models are all fiction.

  3. Towards the beginning of the article, you seem to be referencing the "treasure hunting" activity of young Joseph Smith, but attributing the activity to Nephi, as Joseph's name is not mentioned. Did a paragraph get dropped?