Sunday, October 11, 2020

Where Exactly, Was Lehi's Land of Promise? – Part IV

Continued from the previous post below about a brief and simple understanding regarding how Lehi reached the Land of Promise, and exactly where it was located.

Subducting tectonic plates can force the crust upward to form mountains, and at the same time, create some of the Earth’s most powerful earthquakes


Mountain building, the forming of the great mountains, is the result of a process known as “subduction,” where one tectonic plate or slab subducts, that is, one plate moves under another plate and is forced to sink due to high gravitational potential energy into the mantle, descending until it leaves the area of subduction. Subduction also forms some of Earth's most powerful earthquakes. Slabs normally subduct downward, but sometimes the crust may stick and cause strain, which stores potential energy that is released as an earthquake whenever the weakest point along the fault ruptures.

Subduction earthquakes can be very powerful, as the faults they occur have a very large surface area to accumulate strain. This brings to mind the Disciple Nephi’s comments: “it did shake the whole earth as if it was about to divide asunder” (3 Nephi 8:6); and “the exceedingly great quaking of the whole earth” (3 Nephi 8:12);  and “the highways were broken up, and the level roads were spoiled, and many smooth places became rough” (3 Nephi 8:13); and many were shaken till the buildings thereof had fallen to the earth, and the inhabitants thereof were slain, and the places were left desolate” (3 Nephi 8:14); and the quaking of the earth” (3 Nephi 8:17); and “the quakings of the earth did cease—for behold, they did last for about the space of three hours; and it was said by some that the time was greater; nevertheless, all these great and terrible things were done in about the space of three hours” (3 Nephi 8:19).

In addition, subduction-caused volcanism and earthquake activity occur along the outer edges of the Pacific Ocean in an area known as the Pacific Ring of Fire—an area that is home to over 75% of the world's active and dormant volcanoes.  This subduction has contributed extensive to mineralization, with intrusive rocks, such as diorites, andesites, and porphyries, accounting for most metallic minerals.  One region in Chile produced over a billion dollars in silver since its discovery by Spanish conquistadores in 1545.  Today, Chile leads South America in copper production. Copper and tin are more plentiful than gold and silver, and one of three main areas it exists in South America is in the cordillera Occidental, the western cordillera east of the nitrate zone in northern Chile.

• Lehi's Isle of Promise: Only one area in the world contains all the criteria to be Lehi's Isle of Promise, and that is the area of present day Chile, Peru and Ecuador along the western coast of South America.  However, a quick glance at any map will tell you it is not an island.  Therefore, we must also eliminate Chile, as we have the other locations, or consider that Nephi, Jacob and Helaman's descriptions were not entirely correct.

Or do we?

• The Island of Chile: There are four main ingredients to consider in describing Chile as an island.  First, the fact that Panama did not always connect Central and South America; Second, the Andes mountains were not formed until what geologists call the third great Cordillerian formation period; third, the lowlands of Brazil, Argentina and most of South America east of the Andes were once under water; fourth, the early conquerors found antiquity only in the Andes; and fifth, Columbus believed the area of Venezuela to have been a brand new continent, undiscovered and unoccupied.

Before the Isthmus of Panama formed there was a single tropical ocean between North and South America that had relatively uniform conditions of temperature and nutrients


• Panama: Geologists say that in the early period of the earth's formation, there was a natural channel connecting the two oceans of the Atlantic and Pacific.  Later, Panama knotted itself together by some gigantic effort, and the upheaval left the lowest point of the Continental Divide 276 feet above sea level (Sydney Clark, All the Best in South America, West Coast, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1956, NY, p129).

• Brazilian Plateau: Geologists have determined that the Amazon Valley was originally a wide straight joining the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans.  South America then consisted of two divisions, the highlands of Venezuela and the Guianas at the north, and another great island at the south.  When the Andes were thrown up, the bottom of the Amazon Valley was raised, the waters of the ocean rolled back, and the great plain of Brazil and most of South America east of the Andes was formed (Ibid. Carpenter, Along the Parana and the Amazon).

Argentina Submerged: Charles Darwin crossed the Andes through the Portillo Pass in March, 1835, from Santiago, Chile, to Mendoza, Argentina, and back.  The round trip took 24 days and during that time he became convinced that Argentina was once submerged beneath the Atlantic Ocean.  He saw fossil sea shells as high as 14,000 feet, as well as petrified coastal trees on the Argentina slope and became convinced that the Andes had been slowly upheaved in mass from sea level.  He identified these coastal trees as once being on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, then 700 miles distant to the east (National Geographic Magazine, October 1969, p475, Map 30).

Paria Peninsula where Columbus landed in South America


• Columbus: When Christopher Columbus arrived on his third voyage to the New World, he sailed from Trinidad island across the gulf of Paria to the south coast of the Paria Peninsula in Venezuela. Columbus went ashore with some of his men and described the area in his journal as a very great continent which until that day, he believed, had been unknown (Samuel Eliot Morison, Christopher Columbus, Mariner, New American Library, NY, 1997, p112). At the same time, Columbus never set foot on North American soil, nor did he know that continent existed.

• Early Conquerors: In 1531, Francisco Pizarro set sail from Panama with three ships, 180 men and 27 horses, as well as arms, ammunition and stores.  He sailed down the west coast of South America.  When these early Spanish conquistadors explored South America, they found very little east of the Andes.  They saw a few head hunters in the Amazon forests and a few nomad wanderers in Argentina, but found antiquity only in the Andes, from Chile, through Peru to Ecuador (Hammon Innes, The Conquistadors, Alfred A. Knoph, NY, 1969, p229).  Even today, there is a complete lack of any sign of ancient civilizations in Argentina and Brazil.  Not only do the Andes provide a formidable deterrent to eastern descent, but for most of the building time of the Nephites and their brethren's descendants, that area was under water.

• Andes Mountains: Mormon claims that a Nephite could walk across the Narrow Neck of Land from the west sea to the east sea in a day and a half (Alma 22:32). This would suggest that this land was comparatively flat at that time. However, in the land in general, Nephi tells us that there were mountains, though not their height, when he saw in a vision: “I saw mountains tumbling into pieces; and I saw the plains of the earth, that they were broken up” (1 Nephi 12:4).

So what of the Andes Mountains which rise to heights of 16,000 to 23,000 feet? Geologists claim that at one time the Andes Mountains were mostly a flat plain, and that they were thrown up out of the sea at the west (Frank G. Carpenter, Along the Parana and the Amazon, Doubleday, NY, 1928, p281).

Cinchona tree, the only producer of quinine in the world until the 17th century


Medicinal Plants. Alma wrote that: “There were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land—but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate” (Alma 46:40, emphasis added). Peru had the only cure for fever in the entire world until the 17th century when Dutch traders stole cuttings and replanted them in Indonesia. The plants are Cinchona trees, whose bark is ground into the alkaloid quinine the only cure for malaria known to the early Peruvians who introduced the medicine to the Europeans in the 16th century.

These were some of the finer points of the scriptural record and the matching of South America to the descriptions and statements they contain.


  1. Del, I sent you an email. I hope you receive it.

    Thanks for your great work!

  2. I have looked, but so far it has not come through (text me at 435-680-4649)