Sunday, July 3, 2011

The All Important Winds and Currents – Part III

A very unusual occurrence takes place at the 30º South Latitude—the Tropic of Capricorn—along the west coast of South America that does not occur anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere.

First of all, the West Wind Drift is a constant current flowing around the planet in the Southern Ocean. It is a very fast current, with the winds above often blowing at cyclonic force, called the Roaring Forties, Furious Fifties and Screaming Sixties, referring to the latitudes of the Southern Ocean.

When these winds and current strike the area where the northern tip of Antarctica peninsula rises toward Cape Horn in South America, the passage, a 500-miles wide strip of water between the Pacific side and Atlantic side narrows through the Drake passage—and area known as the roughest ocean in the world. (600 times more water flows through this passage than the Amazon River).

As the flow of water through these latitudes narrows toward the Drake Passage, the northern portion of this flow hits the southern tip of South America and is turned northward, joining with the uplift of the Humboldt current (also called the Peruvian current), until the bulge of South America (Peru), where it is turned toward the west in this counter-clockwise South Pacific Gyre.

In the midst of this fast-moving current and strong winds, the unusual occurrence mentioned above takes place. The winds and current slow from 25 mph down to almost zero at the 30º south latitude at the Tropic of Capricorn (the most southerly latitude at which the sun can appear directly overhead).

At this exact spot along the Chilean coast, there is a magnificent bay, protected from the seas in a half-moon circular inlet, today known as the Bay of Coquimbo. Since much of the Chilean coast is sheer cliffs and nearly impossible to land a sailing vessel, this bay provides a perfect landing site. With the winds and current almost non-existent at this point, a sailing ship “driven forth before the wind” could easily turn toward shore and make a landing.

Also interesting at this point, is a climate that matches the Jerusalem climate in the area and valley of La Serena, beyond the bay—a Mediterranean Climate, and only one of five in the entire world outside the Mediterranean area. Obviously, a place where the seeds from Jerusalem (1 Nephi 18:24) would “grow exceedingly” and provide an “abundant” crop.

This area also happens to be the largest copper mine in the Chilean-Peruvian area, with gold and silver and copper found in single unit of ore (1 Nephi 18:25).

Also here are found the Alpaca and Llama, two unknown animals outside of this area in 1830, and animals that are very useful to man, being the main source of food, clothing, and beasts of burden for work of the indigenous people for thousands of years (Ether 9:19).

Another interesting thing about these currents that flow up along the west coast of South America is that if a ship continues northward without making landfall in the Bay of Coquimbo area, the winds and currents immediately pick up and reach the high velocity before the 30º South Latitude, flowing northward along the coast until they hit the bulge of Peru, curving outward as far north as Ecuador before completely turning out to sea and back across the Pacific Ocean toward the area of Indonesia and then curving downward past Australia in the South Pacific Gyre.

A ship in 600 B.C. “driven forth before the wind” would have followed this extensive journey southward from the Arabian Peninsula through the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and to the Southern Ocean. There, still being “driven forth before the wind” would have been driven across the South Pacific Ocean (or Southern Ocean) toward the Drake Passage, then upward, along the Chilean coast and made landfall in the Bay of Coquimbo.

Simply put, there is not other way a ship “driven forth before the winds” could have gone in 600 B.C. And no other landing site could have been accomplished in the Western Hemisphere. It is not rocket science or brain surgery—it is simply oceanography and wind mechanics…the very things that drove Columbus and all other journeys of discovery two thousand years later.

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