Saturday, August 12, 2017

More on the Malay Geology and Prehistory

Regarding the Malay Peninsula, which at least one reader seems to champion beyond the level of reason, fact, and reality, the Titiwangsa Mountains (Benjaran Titiwangsa) are part of the Tenasserim Hills system, a suture joining together along a major fault zone, of separate terranes; tectonic units that have different plate tectonic metamorphic and paleogeographic histories that form the backbone of the Peninsula. The northern section of the range in southern Thailand, where it is known as the Sankalakhiri Range, runs north to south for 300 miles and acts as a natural divider, dividing peninsular Malysia, as well as southernmost Thailand, into east and west coast regions. These mountains are not recent, being granite and limestone dating to the Permian, Triassic Period. 
   This mountainous backbone of the Malay peninsula shows a solid connection from far into the mainland clear down to the southern tip of the peninsula and that, as geologists point out, would not have allowed for the peninsula to have ever been separated.
Top: Titiwangsa Mountains running along the backbone of the peninsula; Bottom: The Kra Isthmus, the narrowest and lowest point along the peninsula in southern Thailand and Myanmar

The Kra Isthmus, with the east part of the land bridge belonging to Thailand, while the west part belongs to the Tanintharyi division of Myanmar, runs between the Andaman Sea to the west of the isthmus, and to the east the Gulf of Thailand, with the narrowest part located between the estuary of the Kra River and the Bay of Sawi near the city of Chumphon. At this point, the width is 27 miles, and the Phuket Range (a continuation of the greater Tenasserim Range, forming one of the southern sections of the central Indo-Malay cordillera, the mountain chain which runs from Tibet through all of the Malay peninsula extending southwards for over 125 miles) having an elevation of 246 feet above sea level.
    This means that the ocean in Indonesia, which would include the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean would have had to have been about 260 feet higher than today for this separation of the southern peninsula to have been an island at any time, and that would leave only an island 840 miles long across the Malacca Platform—hardly sufficient for the entire history of the Jaredites, Nephites and Lamanites to occupy.
    However, what geologists tell us is that the Indonesian area was actually higher at one time with ocean levels much lower than now. In fact, according to T. Tomascik, et al, Sundaland, or the Sundaic region, land bridges connected the islands of Borneo, Java, and Sumatra to the Malay Peninsula and mainland Asia, corresponding to a larger landmass that was exposed throughout the last 2.6 million years during periods when sea levels were lower. It includes the Malay Peninsula on the Asian mainland, as well as the large islands of Borneo, Java, and Sumatra and their surrounding islands (T. Tomascik, J.A. Mah, A. Nontji, and M.K. Moosa, M.K., The Ecology of the Indonesian Seas – Part One. Hong Kong: Periplus Editions, Hong Kong, 1996, pp580–581).
    In fact, the area of Sundaland encompasses the Sunda Shelf, a tectonically stable extension of Southeast Asia’s continental shelf that was exposed during glacial periods of the last 2 million years (Mark de Bruyn, Bj√∂rn Stelbrink, Robrt J. Morley, et al, “Borneo and Indochinas are Major Evolutionary Hotspots for Southeast Asian Biodiversity,” Systematic Biology, Vol 63 (6), 2014, pp879-901)
The Sahul Shelf and the Sunda Shelf today. The area in between is called Wallacea—at one time, shown in the grayed area, far more land was above water, forming a connecting land bridge between several of these major islands and the Malay Peninsula, as well as between Australia and Papua New Guinea

In fact, greater portions of Sundaland were most recently exposed during the last glacial period ending about 12,000 years ago (Lawrence R. Heaney, "Mammalian Species Richness on Islands on the Sunda Shelf, Southeast Asia," Oecologia, Vol 61 (1), 1984, pp11-17), when land bridges connected the islands of Borneo, Java, and Sumatra to the Malay Peninsula and mainland Asia (Till Hanebuth, Karl Stattegger, and Pieter M. Grootes, "Rapid Flooding of the Sunda Shelf: A Late-Glacial Sea-Level Record," Science, Vol 288 (5468), 2000, pp1033-1035).   
    Geologic studies have shown that entire submerged river systems are observable beneath the oceans of the Siam River System, Malacca Straits River System, North Sunda River System and the East River System, all at one time flowing above the surface on the ancient lands.

Drawing of the raised coast lines in South-East Asia and now submerged river systems—the river beds are based on the surface contours of the sea bed in the area 

    In addition, according to Harold K. Voris: The Paleo River Systems of the Sunda Shelf are vast submerged river systems that extend present-day river systems and may be interpreted to follow topographic lows in a down-slope direction. During the driest of the Pleistocene era, about 17,000 years ago, some four distinct catchment areas formed the Malacca, Siam and Sunda River Systems ("Maps of Pleistocene sea levels in Southeast Asia shorelines, river systems and time durations," Journal of Biogeography, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois, Vol 27, 2000, pp1153–1167). 
    It should be noted that at one time Borneo and Sumatra were continuously connected as a single landmass to the Malaysian Peninsula except for a possible brief period when the land bridge to Borneo may have been temporarily severed. Java would not have become fully connected to Sumatra until much later when the deep, narrow channel through the Sunda Straits existed. In fact, as is the case today, the highland areas of Sundaland occurred as a long arc of volcanic mountains fringing the southern and southeastern margin of the continent in Sumatra, Java and Bali, as extensive highlands in central and northern Borneo, and down the spine of the Malaysian peninsula. 
The Indonesian Throughflow is a current movement of warm water off the tropical Pacific Ocean moving westward through Indonesia and between Malay Peninsula and Sumatra and into the Indian Ocean

One of the things that seems lost on the supporters and proponents of the Malay theory is that the rise in water levels surrounding the Indonesian area, and the Indonesia Through Flow (from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean), is that this rise only submerged the land bridges between the Malay Peninsula and these numerous islands to basically what they are today. In fact, according to Michael I. Bird, of the School of Earth and Environmental Science and Center for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia, the Malaysian Peninsula has been subsiding, and the land bridge south of the Malaysian Peninsula across the Straits of Singapore to the Riau Archipelago was never submerged prior to the Last Interglacial, and since that time had been submerged only for short periods (Micael I. Bird, et al, “Palaeoenvironments of insular Southeast Asia during the Last Glacial Period: A savanna corridor in Sundaland, 2005).
    These connections relate to several interstadial sea-level highstands or lowstands following the Last Interglacial and during the last glacial period. Of particular note is the existence of a flat widespread surface, interpreted as a marine abrasion terrace, identified in the vicinity of both Banka and Karimata Islands, that is, along the axis of the land bridge to Borneo (G.J.J. Aleva, “A Contribution to the Geology of Part of the Indonesian Tinbelt: the Sea Areas Between Singkep and Bangka Islands and Around the Karimata Islands,” Persatuan Geological Malaysia, 1972).


  1. I shared a document with sources explaining the reasons why many geologists suspect that the Malay Peninsula was in fact cut off from the mainland at some point in the recent past, and also in the distant past. I understand some my have trouble opening links from the comments section, so I will share that document again:

    In this document you will find the following source:
    The Location of the Indo-Chinese Sundaic Biogeographic Transition in Plants and Birds
    David S. Woodruff
    Nat. Hist. Bull., Siam Soc. 51(1):97-108, 2003

    The document says in relation to several claims made by several different geologists and biologists that the Malay Peninsula was at one point cut off from the mainland by seaways:

    “Today a sea level at +100 m would flood the peninsula in two places (Woodruff, 2003); in the north a strait would open between Surat Thani and Krabi and, in the south, a strait would open between Songkhla and Kangar. Transgressions in the Miocene and Pliocene were probably in the range of +140 to +150 meters above today’s sea level, although Hutchinson (1989) estimated the Miocene transgression was +220 meters. There northern and southern straits were probably 20-100 km wide and 40-50 km wide, respectively. Both were oriented roughly north-south and contained a number of prominent islands.”

    “These hypothetical seaways are the only barriers proposed so far to account for the origin and differentiation of the Indochinese and Sundaic biotas. Although such seaways have not featured in most recent bigeographic reconstructions, some earlier workers were aware of their possible existence (e.g. Parnell, 2000). Gerini (1909) cited geological and historical evidence to show that the land between Kedah and Songkhla is an old seabed and argued that boats crossed the peninsula here until a thousand years ago. Ridley (1911b:59) was explicit: “One can gather from the flora that at no great length f time ago the Malay Peninsula was cut off from Burmah south of Kedah, by the sea”. Corbet (1941:116) accepted Ridley’s argument for a sea channel but argued that it lay further north: “that while the present Malay Peninsula has undoubtedly been separated from the Asiatic mainland since the advent of the present species of butterflies, this separation occurred north of Kedah and the southward spread of insects and plants has been obstructed by a married which is largely climatic”. Any relationship between this historical seaway and an earlier prehistoric flooding associated with the +5 meter hypsithermal high stand (7000 years before present) and the current biogeography has yet to be established.”

    Given the above collection of statements made by several geologists, it is clear that there is a very high probability that the Malay Peninsula was indeed an island at some point in recent geological history. If we accept a Biblical timeline, then it would seem probably that a seaway did indeed cut across the Malay Peninsula, making it an island.

    1. I thought you went away? Did you read the other statement that totally destroys this model? Did you bother reading anything Jay? Where you said they landed the distance to the mainland is only 400 miles. You can't have an island which would be far smaller than that and stuff millions of people. Can't happen. Your model has been destroyed in so many ways. This is only the latest. I'll keep hammering away and pointing out the absurdity of your rediculous model if you want. We are all tired though of you not accepting any facts. Give it a rest Jay, your model has been proven to be wrong definitively.

    2. The blog post is about the Malay model, so the comment section will appropriately discuss the Malay model. As for your questions, I don't even understand them because I do not know where you get things like "400 miles distance to the mainland". What are you measuring? Distance to the mainland from what? Its not clear what you are referring to.

    3. I'm measuring from the place you said Nephi landed to the mainland. The entire length of the peninsula is what Del wrote. From the land of their first inheritance to the mainland is 400 miles
      Where is your island? There isn't enough room on this itty bitty penesula as Del pointed out. I've asked you how many times now to tell me where this island of yours is. Where is the narrow neck, where did the Jaredites live. You've ignored everything that has been asked if you. I've had to resort to sarcasm to get anything.

      So if you want to continue to debate it that's fine. People are tired of your Stonewalling and rediculous statements without any facts to back them up. The model has been completely discredited and that's a fact.

    4. The Malay Peninsula is massive. It can, and does, easily hold millions of people. The population today is around 33 million people. I don't imagine that the Jaredite or Lehite civilizations were nearly that large.

      If the Malay Peninsula can hold 35 million people today, I imagine it could have held 1-3 million 2000-5000 years ago. Its not so itty bitty.

      I answered this a few days back and I do try my best not to "stonewall" by attempting to respond to your dozens of questions and sarcastic jabs. Ira, I agree with David K that we take this conversation elsewhere. I don't know if you would be interested in continuing via email or otherwise, but our back and forth here in the comments section is becoming tiresome.

  2. Jay, You still haven't answered the question. The peninsula IS NOT MASSIVE. This is a very small area for millions of people who do not have technology. Yes millions can live there today because they have international trade. Not so anciently and that's the difference.

    NO I AM NOT INTERESTED IN YOUR RIDICULOUS MODEL. Lets end it. If you respond further I will as well. But you have not made the case.

    1. If you are willing to accept the statements of experts on the matter, there are estimates of a "population of three-quarters of a million" at the precise location we are discussing in the heart of the Malay Peninsula during the time period of the Book of Mormon. These estimates are found in:

      Agriculture, Hydraulics, and Urbanism at Satingpra, August 1989 JANE ALLEN

      I don't know how large the Lehite civilization was at its height, but if the center of the Malay Peninsula could sustain 750,000 people during the time of the Book of Mormon that suggests that it was not as itty bitty and very small as you propose.

  3. I agree with so many who have written that this is of no further interest here. So this was my last article on the Malay Theory. Nothing more can be said. There are two histories of Southeast Asia, one held in the Western World and is supported by thousands of academicians and historians and the other is held by numerous individuals and historians in the eastern world. Evidently, the two will never see eye to eye. So, for those who support the Malay Theory, there re other posts where this issue is acceptable, but here on this blog, it has been thoroughly exhausted and no further articles or rebuttals will be encouraged. Thank you for your interest in the subject.

  4. Del, thank you. At least now we have the necessary information to intellegently debunk this model. In that regard it has been worth while. Let's get back to the real place where the Nephites lived and hopefully find new and exciting information. Ira