Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Brazilian Shield

Question: “The Brazilian Shield is quite interesting. Likely the Nephites/Lamanites either did not know about it's existence or it was likely of such a low elevation that it may not have been inhabitable. Do you have any information about when it was colonized? Since the Andes would have been higher in elevation it makes sense that this area would be inhabitable. Thanks for the great information” 
    Response: Before answering this, let me just say that over the past few years we have received numerous flippant comments about how impossible it would have been for mountains to have formed in South America and the continent to rise above the surface in a matter of such a short time as described by Nephi during the crucifixion. It always amazes me how people with no background or understanding of the geological principles involved in such matters can so easily dismiss such events they lack any understanding about except for hearing or reading mainstream geologists who claim the Earth is 4.55 billion years old and that it takes tens of millions of years for mountains to form.
    This question, however, is just the opposite. Looking for the means by which continents rise and mountains are created, and how the building blocks of the continent determine what growth and phases the continent goes through during its existence.
On the other hand, it is claimed by geologists that it has taken 50-million years for the Himalayan mountain range and Tibetan plateau to have formed, which has resulted from the colossal collision between the Indian Plate and Eurasian Plate and continues today

    As one geologist stated in answering the question asked of him: “how long does it take for a mountain to form?” he answered, “It seems that since mountain ranges are created through the collision of tectonic plates ("theoretically"!), the scale of mountain creation is somewhere on the scale of tens to hundreds of millions of years. This of course depends on the specifics of the mountain we are discussing. To take a specific case: the Appalachian mountains on the northeastern seaboard of North America, took about 100 million years to completely form before plates shifted in a different direction. Now, 300 million years after the climax of the orogeny, the appalachians are much nearer to their death via erosion and subduction than their genesis.”
    One parenthetical note is most important here, and that is “theoretically!” So let us take a     look at the queston asked us and the formation of some solid evidence in South America about mountain building and continent-rising.
Most of the entire North American continent is a Craton, that is, a long-standing area of little or no movement, i.e., a geologic stable area

    Another comment to make is that almost all of North America is a single Creton, that is, the brown area on the map above shows the part of the North American continent that has been stable for over 600 million years. This region is made up of a basement older Precambrian metamorphic and igneous rock that is mostly covered by a relatively thin cover of younger sedimentary rock—a long-stable continental core, a Credton. And with such stability, the credibility by Great Lakes theorists that there has been movement or change in the lifetimre of man is contrary to the geologic bases of the entire area.
As for South America, there are two shields or rock Cretons in the north and east of the continent—these are stable portions of the continental crust from regions that are more geologically active and unstable. Cratons can be described as shields, in which the basement rock crops out at the surface, and platforms, in which the basement [rock] is overlaid by sediments and sedimentary rock—Sedimentary rock is one of the three main rock groups, along with “igneous” and “metamorphic” rocks, and is formed in four main ways: first, by the deposition of the weathered remains of other rocks (known as clastic sedimentary rocks; second, by the accumulation and the consolidation of sediments; third by the deposition of the results of biogenic activity; and fourth by precipitation from solution. Thus, rock that develops atop a Craton is far less stable and “permanent” as the rock making up the Craton beneath.
    Sedimentary rocks include common types such as chalk, limestone, sandstone, clay and shale, all of which covers about 75% of the Earth's surface, and develop in one or a combination of four basic processes, such as 1) weathering (erosion) caused mainly 2) by friction of waves, 3) transportation where the sediment is carried along by a current, or 4) deposition and compaction where the sediment is squashed together to form a rock of this kind. Sedimentary rocks, then, are formed from overburden pressure as particles of sediment are deposited out of air, ice, or water flows carrying the particles in suspension.
    As sediment deposition builds up, the overburden (or 'lithostatic') pressure squeezes the sediment into layered solids in a process known as lithification (“rock formation”) and the original connate fluids are expelled.
    So, with the Cratons forming at or just beneath the surface, the sedimentary rocks formed on top, creating a taller or higher solid rock foundation, called a Craton, that is about as permanent as rock can get and is the stable portion of the continental crust, especially known in regions that are more geologically active and unstable—such as was and is the continent of South America.
The Continental Craton. Sitting beneath both oceanic and continental crust is rigid peridotitic mantle that, with the overlying crust, comprises the lithosphere. Note: the Mantle Keel hosts nearly all of the world’s gem diamonds, and thus it deserves more than passing attention when considering the geologic origin of diamonds, and how far it deepens beneath the Craton 

    In addition, Cratons have thick lithospheric roots. Mantle tomography (imaging the subsurface of the Earth with seismic waves produced by earthquakes or explosions) shows that cratons are underlain by anomalously cold mantle corresponding to lithosphere more than twice the typical 60-mile thickness of mature oceanic or non-cratonic, continental lithosphere. At that depth, craton roots extend into the asthenosphere, which is the upper mantle of earth. Craton lithosphere is distinctly different from oceanic lithosphere because cratons have a neutral or positive buoyancy, and a low intrinsic isopycnic density—which is the core of the continent. This low compactness offsets density increases due to geothermal contraction and prevents the Craton from sinking into the deep mantle. In geology, Cratonic lithosphere is much, much older than oceanic lithosphere.
    Rock fragment xenoliths, which is “foreign rock” that is carried up from the mantle by magmas containing peridotite (coarse-grained igneous rock) delivered to the surface as inclusions, that is, any material that is trapped inside a mineral during its formation in subvolcanic (an intrusive igneous rock emplaced at medium to shallow depths within the crust) pipes called kimberlites, a rock which sometimes contain diamonds. These inclusions have densities consistent with Craton composition and are composed of mantle material residual from high degrees of partial melt, and are strongly influenced by the inclusion of moisture, which produces a low moisture content, that leads to much greater strength. It also contains high percentages of low-weight magnesium instead of higher-weight calcium and iron.
Cratons, both old and strong. Cratons are pieces of continents that have been stable for a very, very long time. As earth’s plates drift along, mountains periodically rise and fall, plate boundaries appear and disappear. But cratons are like great-grandmothers at family gatherings, while younger crust moves excitedly around them, they sit quietly, occasionally remarking on how different things were when they were young

    As for the Shield, it is generally a large area of exposed Precambrian crystalline igneous and high-grade metamorphic rocks that form tectonically stable areas. In all cases, the age of these rocks is very old and have been little affected by tectonic events, and are relatively flat regions where mountain building, faulting, and other tectonic processes are greatly diminished compared with the activity that occurs at the margins of the shields and the boundaries between tectonic plates.
    The term Shield, used to describe this type of geographic region, appears in the 1901 English translation of Edward Suess’, Face of Earth by H. B. C. Sollas, and comes from the shape "not unlike a flat shield" of the which has an outline that "suggests the shape of the shields carried by soldiers during the days of hand-to-hand combat."
    The furthest north of the South American shields is that of the Guiana Shield, and you can go to our website blog: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 for information on that.


  1. Any who think Del is not highly educated and highly intelligent have not read his blog or his books.

    1. I find Del to be highly educated, which is why his blatant disregard for sound science bothers me so much. If you are going to use geologic principles to explain your model then you should not cherry pick those principles to fit your biased interpretations. Truth is truth, regardless of how it is obtained. The ancient nature of the Earth and the universe is well established scientific fact that cannot be idly dismissed simply because it disagrees with your interpretation of ancient scripture (which, I might add, is most definitely NOT scientific text, but religious). If you are going to argue that the earth is not as old as "mainstream geologists" claim, at least provide some scientific or logical basis for such refutation. A true model of Book of Mormon geography should fit scripture as well as science, without the need to modify either.

  2. Brandon have you read his blog and his books? I have carefully studied every blog entry and each of his books. The books are extremely well documented and contain the scientific and logical basis you seek. I encourage you to study them and see what you think.

    1. Dave, I have read several blog entries including this one but I have not read his books. Why not provide free access to his research and conclusions? Why the need for profit? I would very much like to read his methods, observations, and conclusions. Without having done so I can neither accept nor reject his hypothesis. But I refuse to pay money for a book that claims to contain valid and accurate information, but which might very well be completely misleading, especially considering the author's blatant disregard for valid and accepted scientific principles. If, after having read and accepted at least the greater portion as being accurate, or at least valid, I would at least consider purchasing the book, but not without such assurances.
      This particular blog entry is disheartening and causes me to question Del's methods and conclusions because he completely throws out the well-established fact of deep time and an ancient, 4.5 billion year old earth. Other LDS scholars and scientists (myself included -- I am a geologist) have no squabbles with an ancient earth or even with evolution. But Del wants to use geologic evidence to support his model while throwing out one of the very foundations of geology: that the laws of physics do not change over time. He proposes that the land east of the Andes was under sea level during Book of Mormon times, claiming that mainstream geologists must be wrong. It’s true the foreland basin just east of the Andes was once a sea, but that closed up in the Eocene ~50 million years ago.

    2. This is a new reply to an old comment, so it probably won't be seen, but I'm going to vent. You mention "the very foundation of geology" that the laws of physics do not change over time. I don't think that Del ignores the laws of physics. But Del also does not deny the hand of God in world history, which includes geographical history. When he mentions "mainstream science" he is referring to a uniformitarian approach to geography / geology and science. Rather, it is a belief that geological events only happen in the same way that it is observed now. It is a scientific view that denies cataclysmic events which are recorded through religious context.

      Basically, it is a uniformitarian view that must create a geology going back millions and billions of years because it can't accept a global flood. Did Noah's flood really happen or not? If not, then the way to explain currently observable geography is to say that things always have happened at the pace they do now, resulting in eons of time. If the food did happen, then the scars of such a cataclysmic event cannot be understated. The emergence of water in enough volume and movement to cover all the mountains on the planet, and then to wash off of the land from such heights would leave huge, dramatic scars all over the planet. But uniformitarian observation denies a flood and must explain the scars in the only way it can - millions and millions of years. Did the flood happen or not? I believe it did, and that it perfectly obeyed the laws of physics.

      I applaud the Christian community of scientists that will not deny the flood when scientifically studying the world around us. Meanwhile, the LDS scientific community not only seems to overlook the flood, but often downplays the catastrophic events described in the Book of Mormon that we hold dear. Could mountains have risen to great heights in 3 hours? By the hand of God, yes. By observing how fast mountains are rising at this very moment, no.

      It's too bad we feel so threatened by the educated fingers pointing at us from the great and spacious building that we have to somehow make the worldview and the word of God get along by saying that God can only do things at a certain pace, and that he only has access to the laws of physics in the way that we finite minds can comprehend them.

      We're almost as guilty as those who threatened to kill the believers of the miraculous day and night without darkness if it didn't happen by a certain date. Then it did happen (not explainable by uniformitarian science). Yet in not many years it was dismissed as a fluke, a coincidence, a non reality. Let's not dismiss the word of God so flippantly just because the rest of the world has chosen to, and then claim that they have a corner on the laws of physics.

      But what do I know?

  3. Todd: You seem to know quite a bit. But I am afraid you embark on a never-ending quest for fairness among the scientific world and the realistic world. Evidently, unlike Brandon, I am old enough to have learned from pre-uniformitariansm science as well as later uniformitarianism science. It is not that we ignore "mainstream science" here, we just recognize as so many intelligent people have stated, that if you wait around long enough, what is claimed to be scientifically proven today will be replaced by a new idea that is scientifically proven tomorrow. As an example, Alfred Wegener published a work in 1930 claiming continental drift; however, his theory was totally rejected by "mainstream science" until the 1960s when continental drift finally became part of mainstream science. I was involved in such work both before and after that change and it is amazing how much flak that idea received from the "know-it-alls" who hid behind their learning only to be shoved aside with more modern ideas. Then, of course, there was Aristarchus of Samos (270s BC)who first determined the earth evolved around the sun and not vice-versa. He was ridiculed by "mainstream science" of Plato, Aristotle and Ptolemy until his death--it was 1800 years later that Copernicus (1532) had revived the idea with his fully predictive mathematical model of a heliocentric system which was published upon his deathbed in 1543; backed by Johannes Kepler who failed to convince anyone of such an idea, and finaly proven by Galileo (1632) with his newly invented refracting telescope. One could go on, but the concept is well founded--science is not and never has been the last word on truth because of its constant changing due to constant new ideas leading to "new" truths. What is interesting is how many contemporary scientists today have rejected the geologic column, but they remain a ridiculed group and evidently will for some time to come.

  4. Brandon: Surely if you have read several of our blog articles, etc., you are aware that in a short article like these, space for including reference material is at a premium and minimal, since we have repeated this over and over again. That is why we have books of 800 to 1000 pages, with hundreds to a thousand references. We would love to give things away, but since it costs us about $30 to publish a single book you must realize that such would not be practical for the vast majority of people--and rarely does someone go to such an expense and give it away. On the other hand, our book sales are not profitable and are not intended to be. You must be quite young without limited understanding of the world's workings. If you want free books, go to a library, if you want to learn, then go where the learning is.

    Surely you know the detailed story of Plato, who thought his mentor Socrates was the wisest person of this time and he passionately desired to learn all of Socrates’ wisdom. As it turned out on a walk along the shore, Plato was held under water by Socrates until Plato, struggling to get free, ran out of air and ceased to struggle. Socrates then pulled him ashore and resuscitated him. When Plato regained consciousness, he angrily accused Socrates of trying to drown him. Socrates matter-of factly explained, “If that had been my intention, I would not have pulled you ashore.” Puzzled, Plato then demanded: “Then why did you do that?” Socrates calmly replied, “When you desire my knowledge like you desired that breath of air, then you shall have it.”

    Learning is important in life. When one stops learning, one’s life becomes stagnant since one can never know all things, and soon falls behind those who know more.