Thursday, November 29, 2018

Is the Chilean Landing Site Really a Myth? Part I

Recently a reader sent us an article written by Dan R. Hender titled “The Logic and Reasoning Against the Chilean Site,” on home page website. His information, though misguided and inaccurate, does point out the difficulty it is in intelligently discussing such an event as Lehi landing in the Bay of Coquimbo near La Serena, Chile.
    In his opening statement about the Bay of Coquimbo landing site and the La Serena settlement area upon first landing in the Land of Promise, Hender states: “This Chilean landing site places Lehi's party in an arid climate, as we know it today. They would be south of any forested lands having to cross over a 1000-miles desert lands northward to arrive at such in Bolivia and Southern Peru. This includes the 600 mile Atacama desert known as the driest desert and land on earth.”
Satellite map showing the location of the Atacama Desert (note the lighter area within the red circle). As can be seen, it is far north of the site of La Serena where Lehi settled after landing in adjacent Coquimbo Bay

This is a major issue and a total misconception of one of the major negative comments about a Chilean landing made by theorists of other locations. Evidently, it would be beneficial to take the time to educate those who share such an opinion as to the reality of the central to northern coastal area of Chile in South America.
    First of all, the Atacama Desert is a strip of land on the Pacific coast, west of the high and impassable Andes Mountains, but east of the Coastal Cordillera, covering an area of about 600 miles north to south, or 41,000 square miles, and centers around an area called Antofagasta, a settlement 538 miles north of Coquimbo Bay and La Serena where it is said Lehi landed. This area includes the settlements of Pukara de Quitor (Pre-Colombian Stone Fortress), Qoyo, Cucuter, Collo, Tulor, Béter, Los Pantanos, Toconao, Guatin and other sites, and nearby the Valley of the Moon.
    Technically, the geomorphology, that is the study of the physical features of the surface of the earth and their relation to its geological structures, of the Atacama Desert has been characterized as a low-relief bench "similar to a giant uplifted terrace" (Armijo, Rolando Armijo, et al., "Coupled Tectonic Evolution of Andean Orogeny and Global Climate," Earth-Science Reviews, vol.143, 2015, pp1-35). This intermediate depression, or Central Valley, forms a series of endorheic, or closed, basins in much of the southern Atacama Desert.
    The Chilean coastal region’s topographic and bathymetric features created by the physical, chemical or biological processes operating at or near the Earth's surface, lies in an irregular, massive and intercepted relief of valleys and cordons of Transverse hills, which unite the Andean system with the coastal plains. The coastal plains in general has little development, with the exception of the mouth of ravines and rivers of fluvio-marine, or the area formed by the joining of the sea and a river or stream.
    The plains are irregular, with solid and intercepted valleys and cordons, or barriers, of transverse (crosswise) hills that unite the Andean Mountain system with the coastal plains, which lies to the east of the Cordillera de la Costa, a massif or mountain range, with heights of 1968 to 3,281 feet. The intermediate depression between the coastal range and the Andes is a discontinuous land organized in a series of basins called Pampas are about 35 miles wide and extend to the south of the Copiapó River (200-miles north of La Serena), to the Elqui River, which is east of La Serena. East of this line are the Cordillera de Los Andes and the Nevada Ojos del Salado, which at 22,572-feet, the world;s tallest active volcano are both high and impassable.
    There are four main geomorphic units along the Chilean coast in this area:
1. El Marco Montañoso (The Mountainous framework) Cordillera de Nahuelbuta
2. Las Terrazas Marinas, the sea terraces (between the coastal zone and Cordillera)
3. La Planicie Litoral (Zona Costera, or the coastal zone)
4. La Planicie Ribereña, the Riparian plain, by or on the banks of a rive (Bio River Hydrographic basin)
A cross-section of the landform where Lehi landed, far south of the Atacama Desert. However, all along the Chilean coast from south of Valparaiso to Arica, there is a Coastal Plain that is and always has been hospitable. In the area of La Serena, this coastal area has a Mediterranean Climate that is much like Southern California, the tip of South Africa, and the Mediterranean Sea

Geomorphology is the science that studies the forms of the Earth's crust, focused on describing, understanding its genesis and understanding its current behavior. The geoforms of the Chilean territory are multiple and varied. The characteristic morphology of Chile's long territory in the South American area is given by three fundamental traits that determine the relief in the longitudinal sense: the Cordillera de los Andes, to the east; The Cordillera de la Costa, to the west; And the intermediate depression, between both mountainous systems. As lower relief units, the mountain and the coastal plains can be added.
    As a low-relief bench, similar to a giant uplifted terrace along the coastal cliff of northern Chile, a line of low coastal mountains, the Cordillera de la Costa, lies to the west of the Atacama Desert, and to its east rises the Cordillera Domeyko, foothills of the Andes. The desert consists mainly of salt pans at the foot of the coastal mountains on the west and of alluvial fans of sloping from the Andean foothills to the east; some of the fans are covered with dunes, but extensive pebble accumulations are more common.
    Cordillera de la Costa corresponds to an extensive mountain range that stretches along the coastline of northern Chile. Its width is between 9 and 31 miles and reaches an average altitude of 5,250 feet. In general, the altitude of the Cordillera de la Costa increases from north to south and reaches the highest elevations, approximately 9,186 feet above sea level, at the latitude of Paposo. In some parts, this mountain range rises abruptly from sea level, forming a cliff that can reach up to 3,281 feet above sea level.  The small springs located along the northern coast of Chile in the vicinity of Antofagast are the visible discharge of a regional groundwater body in the very low permeability Cordillera de la Costa, whose hydraulic conductivity decreases downward and flow is dominantly though fissures and storage in the low porosity (low porous) rock matrix. It is believed that about 1000 BC and earlier, the rainfall along this coast was much higher than that found today.
    The Atacama is sparsely populated, with most towns located along the Pacific coast. In interior areas, oases and some valleys have been populated for millennia and were the location of the most advanced pre-Columbian societies found in Chile.
    As can be seen from all of this, the claimed landing site of Lehi at Coquimbo Bay and La Serena, lies between 300 and 500 miles to the south of the Atacama Desert which Hender claims would have precluded such a landing. In fact, as we have often enumerated here, the area of La Serena, though somewhat arid, is a Mediterranean Climate and not a desert at all.
    His further comment: “NASA has used it to test its NOMAD moon and planet exploration vehicle, as the land surface of the Atacama Desert is more like the surface of Mars than it is of any living surface here on earth. The Atacama is not a 'living desert.' It is a dead, dry land for hundreds of miles and shows no signs of any such thing as previously being forested or having had abundant animal life.”
Left: Map showing relationship between the Atacama Desert, the Altiplano, and narrow coastal strip and the mountains; Right: Map showing many of the settlements that occurred and, in most cases, still exist along the Chilean coastal strip. In addition, there were also numerous settlements within the Atacama dating back into BC times

Actually, there is no disagreement with Hender’s description of the Atacama; however, his placement of it being Lehi’s landing site is totally inaccurate. At the same time, while we are not suggesting Nephi, or any of those who went north after Lehi died at Le Serena, ever set foot in the Atacama, it should not be considered uninhabitable, since as the map above shows, numerous settlements along the Chilean coastal strip has occurred since BC times.
(See the next post, “Is the Chilean Landing Site Really a Myth? Part II,” for more regarding Dan R. Hender’s article on his website about the Chilean landing of Lehi is just a myth)

1 comment:

  1. I popped in on Hunterscastle to see what he has to say. His name is Don R. Hender not Dan. Doesn't matter much. I didn't find anywhere you could comment or become a member. Not that I would or anything. Great article Del concerning the landing site.