Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Changing Land of Promise—The Effect of Rising Mountains - Part VI - On the Waters of Mormon and the river Sidon

Continuing with the past five posts and our understanding of how the changes described in 3 Nephi affected the landscape of the Land of Promise and what that means to us today, we concluded the last post with: 
   The point is, land has risen or sunk throughout recorded history. Unfortunately, modern man has a firm belief that the world was always as it is now, without realizing the changes that have taken place over the centuries. However, we have been given sufficient knowledge to know and understand that changes have not only taken place, but in some cases what those changes were.
    Certainly, the Lord has the innate ability to transform, realign, change, create, organize and alter anything within the physical world he chooses. His creations of worlds is beyond number (Moses 7:30), and he knows them all (Moses 7:36). To Enoch, the Lord granted the power to move mountains and change the courses of rivers by the power of his words (Moses 7:13), as did the Brother of Jared (Ether 12:30), and the Lord told us that if we had the faith of a mustard seed, we could move mountains, too (Matthew 17:20). The point is, moving mountains can and has been done. Changing the courses of rivers, can and has been done. Based on the last several posts, it should be obvious to anyone that trying to pin-point changeable places in the Land of Promise today is speculative at best—and downright misleading at worst.
    Now in knowing and understanding this, the question arises of what changes have occurred in the Land of Promise since 34 A.D. As simple of an understanding as this is, that some drastic changes had to have taken place, it is always amazing that people will make claims and even take people on tours of so-called Book of Mormon lands as though no changes ever occurred in the land. As an example, Joseph Allen Tours (formerly Middle American Tours) in the past 40 years has taken over 400 tours into Mesoamerica, with their leader, Dr. Joseph L. Allen, who has written extensively about Mesoamerica being the Land of Promise, claiming such things as Lake Atitlan in Guatemala as being the Waters of Mormon, among many other such assertions.
    So let’s take this one claim and have a look at it:
    Lake Atitlan is nine miles long and four miles wide, is surrounded by volcanoes, and has some very rugged terrain between it and where Allen places the City of Nephi.
Red Arrow: Lake Atitlan (Waters of Mormon) on Allen’s map, sits in a cauldron or volcanic depression. This lake is about 40 miles west of Kaminaljuyu (his city of Nephi), but 100 miles by curving access through tall, rugged mountains and volcanic terrain that surrounds it 
    By the way, there is a curious point to Allen’s map and placement of locations. When the Lord told Nephi to flee from his brothers and the sons of Ishmael, and take all those who would go with him (2 Nephi 5:5), and they “did journey in the wilderness for the space of many days. And after we had journeyed for the space of many days we did pitch our tents” (2 Nephi 5:8). Now the term “many days” covers a wide range of time, since it was also used to describe the time it took to cross the ocean (1 Nephi 18:23), so we cannot be certain how far Nephi and his party traveled from the area of their first landing. However, based on Allen’s map, he is suggesting a distance of about 120 miles as the crow flies, which does not seem like a far enough distance for someone to travel who fears being tracked down and killed by his brothers.
Blue Arrow: Lehi’s landing site; Green Arrow: city of Nephi; Red Arrow: length of their travel (blue line)
    Another interesting point of Allen’s map, especially for those interested in accuracy, which Allen seems not to be himself, is the location of Bountiful, near the east coast of the Yucatan, approximately 400 miles from the narrow neck of land, though Mormon tells us that the Land of Bountiful was adjacent to the narrow neck of land on the south (Alma 22:29-30).
Red Arrow: Location of Allen’s Bountiful; Green Arrow: Location of Allen’s Narrow Neck of Land, making Bountiful even further from the Land of Desolation, which was to the north of the narrow neck 
    It is hard to place much credence on someone who is so unwilling to follow the scriptural record, and so blatantly in error as to the simple location of Mormon’s very clear explanation and description of these lands and places. Certainly, when Mormon writes: “even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful, and it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward” (Alma 22:29-30); “Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful” (Alma 22:31); “it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea” (Alma 22:32). Obviously, in Allen’s map, the Land of Bountiful is nowhere near his West Sea.
    However, coming back to Allen’s Waters of Mormon, we find an interesting problem in locating this area today. Like John L. Sorenson before him (An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p 176), Allen locates the Waters of Mormon as Lake Atitlan, an area lying roughly between the area of his First Landing and the City of Nephi.
Lake Atitlan is considered to be the Waters of Mormon by Mesoamericanists John L. Sorenson and Joseph Allen, with the ruins of Kaminaljuyu (near Guatemala City) as the city of Nephi 
    The simple question regarding Lake Atitlan as the Waters of Mormon is, what would we find today compared to Nephite times if, 1) The mountains surrounding the Waters of Mormon had been those that Nephi saw “tumbling into pieces,” or 2) the mountains surrounding the Waters of Mormon had been those that Samuel mentioned would rise up to great heights?
    In both cases, any attempt to correlate the Waters of Mormon with Lake Atitlan today would be impossible, since 1) if the mountains tumbled to the ground certainly the Waters of Mormon would have disappeared, no longer having a base, and 2) if the mountains rose up at the time of this destruction, the present Lake Atitlan would not have existed at the time of Alma, not having formed until the mountains rose at the time of the crucifixion.
    This is the kind of problem we get into when we start claiming this or that location is the one mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Another problem is that when we try to do this, we are stuck with the exact locations that we now see on a map. In the case of Lake Atitlan, its location from Allen’s city of Nephi is approximately 40 miles as the crow flies, but, according to a photographer and mountain climber who is quite familiar with the area, who claims that the topography is so rugged, that the distance by foot is actually one hundred miles because of the many mountains, volcanoes and incisive terrain surrounding it.
    This 100 miles is about the same distance as from Layton to Nephi in Utah, or Long Beach to San Diego in California—hard to image people and families (Mosiah 18:4) making such a trek (about three days one way or longer in such terrain) over such difficult topography; or that the king’s army would travel that far to search for Alma (Mosiah 18:5) “during the day.” Or why Alma would have traveled away from the city of Nephi to hide in the very direction of Lehi’s first landing, an area heavily occupied by Lamamites (Alma 22:28).
    The area simply does not match the circumstances about which Mormon writes.
    Allen also claims that the narrow strip of wilderness is a range of mountains that flows from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean—he writes: “The only place in all of the Americas where there is an east-west mountain range that touches two seas is that which divides Guatemala from Chiapas, Mexico.” However, a significant problem is that we do not know, nor does Allen, that these mountains existed prior to 34 A.D., or that they ran from one end of the land to the other at that time, or were not affected in some way during the collapse of mountains and the rising of others described by Nephi. It is very hard to make a case with mountains before and after 34 A.D. because of their destruction and their rising as stated in the scriptural record.
(See the next post, “Changing Land of Promise—The Effect of Rising Mountains - Part VII and the Disappearing Sea East,” for more information on the changes wrought by the events described in 3 Nephi, and their effect on the Land of Promise before and after 34 A.D. and how the Lord intervened to change this landscape in three hours)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Changing Land of Promise—The Effect of Rising Mountains - Part V and the Disappearing Sea East

Continuing with the past four posts and our understanding of how the destruction and changes described in 3 Nephi affected the landscape of the Land of Promise and what it that means to us today.  
    As stated in the conclusion of the previous post: “At this time, with the Andes mountains we now see at their considerable height, still isolating the western coastal shelf of South America from the eastward lands, the Nephite Sea East ceased to exist.”
    In its place of the Sea East rose the eastern, or Occidental range of the Andes, forming the Urubamba River along the line that once was the eastern seacoast. Lake Titicaca, a 3,200-square-mile saltwater lake was trapped among the rapidly rising peaks as they rushed to their present height. The lake, now the deepest navigable alpine lake in the world, then slowly began draining to the south, its evaporation of water leaving salt all along the endorheic basic of the Altiplano—a plateau which was formed during the uplift of the Andes mountains.
South of Lake Titicaca, along its drainage course, lies a series of salt flats (top), including Salar de Empexa, Salar de Laguani, Salar de Ascotan, Salar de Coipasa, and the largest: Salar de Uyuni (Bottom)—the world’s largest salt flat at 4,086 square miles. These flats were formed from the drainage of the salt water formed when the Andes uplifted, creating lakes such as the saline Titicaca, and hypersaline Poopo, Usru Uru, and Atacama
    According to Stanford geologist Robert B. Dunbar (“Stanford Report,” Science Magazine 2001), recent sediment samples from the lakebed indicate that water levels have dramatically risen in the past of the lake that is now two miles above sealevel on the Altiplano, or High Plateau, of the northern Andes Mountains.
    There are five observable factors that suggest Lake Titicaca rose at the time of the Andes: 1) The port of Puma Punku, with its magnificent rock wharves are now sixteen miles from any water source where large scale navigation took place, 2) The huge, rock slabs, some weighing hundreds of tons, are strewn about like children’s blocks, showing a violent upheaval, 3) Water lines on adjacent mountains show that the sea was once located there, 4) Millions of sea shells are scattered all over the area, and 5) evidence of ancient large-scaled corn fields adjacent to the area show an ancient cultivation, though corn will not grow at this present altitude.
Stone wharfs at Puma Punku, now at 12,800 feet and sixteen miles from any water, were once at sea level and handled hundreds of ships. Top: These broken stones from the four-level building overlooking the wharves and docks were once a single stone, weighing over four hundred ton, now obviously broken by some extremely powerful uplift; Bottom: Parts of the city and wharfs of Puma Punku buried in the depths of Lake Titicaca
    At the time of this uplift, Lake Titicaca was a salt water lake and even today is still slightly saline, with skeletons of salt-water, ocean-dwelling fish having been found within it, and its shoreline littered with millions of fossilized seashells. The marine fishes and seahorses in the lake are all oceanic types found only in salt water. In addition, the banks of the fresh water Desaguadero River is flanked by a halophytic prairie (salt tolerant), which is composed of quaternary silts of saline soils, and the vegetation is adapted to high concentrations of salts, suggesting this fresh water river (the outflow of Lake Titicaca) was once a river with high salt content.
    In addition, the residence time of Titicaca, that is, the time it takes for the water to be flushed from the lake and replaced by new water, also called “Lake Retention Time,” (the measurement of the age of the water within the lake to be replaced), is 1343 years (Lake Tahoe in Nevada/California, is 650 years, the Caspian Sea is 250 years, Lake Superior is 191 years, Lake Michigan is 99 years, Lake Huron is 22 years, Bear Lake in Utah is 19.6 years, Lake Powell in Utah is 7.2 years, Lake Ontario is 6 years, Lake Erie is 2.6 years, and Devil’s Lake in Oregon is about 4.5 weeks—in fact, only three lakes have longer residence time: Lake  Qaban in Russia, of several thousand years; Lake Poyang in China of 5000 years; and Lake Vostok in Antartica of 13300 years ).
    All of this points out the tremendous exchange time for Titicaca to have lost its salt content. In 2000 years, there would be very little left, as is found today. Obviously, all this drainage of salt from Titicaca should be visible to its southward end where it drains, and as pointed out above, it certainly is, forming a series of salt flats, including the world’s largest salt flats.
    According to Hoorn, Guerrero and Lorente, (“Andean tectonics as a cause of changing drainage patterns in northern South America” 1995), “The uplift of the tropical Andes…had a profound impact on the history of the South American continent, and changed the course of the Amazon system from flowing northwestwards to the modern system that flows to the Atlantic side.” And according to Kathryn Gregory-Wodzicki, This “affected the climate of the region by forming the only barrier to atmospheric circulation in the Southern Hemisphere” (“Andean tectonics as a cause of changing drainage patterns in northern South America” 2000).
    With the Amazon now flowing eastwards to the Atlantic, from its source in the Peruvian Andes a short distance (less than 100 miles) from the Pacific Ocean, the Amazon Drainage Basin formed—called Amazonia, it is the largest such basin in the world and covers about 40% of South America, an area around 2,720,000 square miles, and containing more water than any other river in the world. This area, once the Pebesian Sea, which drained to near the surface as the South American tectonic plate slid upward over the Nazca plate, still remains pretty much of a swampy flatland of forested areas called várzea (flooded forests) that become increasingly flooded every rainy season as the river rises annually to more than thirty feet with additional runoff. Only the areas along the northern and southern margines and montaine forests in the Andes to the west, is there found “terra firma” (solid ground).
    For those who consider that South America could not have risen up out of the sea, the Amazon Basin, which is about the size of the contiguous United States, is still more or less at  sea level.
The Amazon Basin is mostly a fresh-water swamp forest where trees are inundated in water at least six months of the year or more, with patches of ground enclosed with freshwater in some places permanently and in others seasonally called Várzea (flooded forests in wetlands) or Igapó (blackwater-flooded Amazonian forests). It is not what you would think of as a large plain like the Great Plains of the U.S. or typical rainforests like those in Africa, Central America or New Zealand
    In addition, for those unfamiliar with the list of submerged lands, consider 1) Sundaland, the now submerged Sunda Shelf; 2) Zealandia a continent now 93% submerged under the Pacific Ocean, 3) Kerguelen Plateau, a submerged micro-continent now about 3 to 6 feet below sea level; 4) Doggerland, the bed of the North Sea; 5) the bed of the Persian Gulf; 6) A large island in the Mediterranean Sea of which the Maltese Islands are the only parts not now submerged; 7) Maui Nui, once a large island of the Hawaii archipelago; 8) Strand, an island off the German coast; 9) Jordsand once an island off the Danish coast; 10) Gerdinandea, submerged island that has appeared at least four times in the past; 11) Sarah Ann Island, now submerged guano island, off the coast of the equator; and 12) Ravenser Odd, a large 13th century town on the old sandbank promontory in East Yorkshire that became an island and then vanished in 1392.
NASA photo of a new island, now more than 1 ½ years in existence south of Japan
    There is also an existing emerging island (Nishino Shima) 620 miles south of Japan’s coast, having grown eight times larger than when first observed in early 2013 within the Bonin Islands or Ogasaware chain. Fifteen hundred years ago earthquakes sunk Alexandria off the coast of Egypt, only recently rediscovered; a city called Dwarka off the coast of Cambay, India, was recently discovered, along with its intact architecture and human remains; ancient pyramids were discovered twenty years ago off the coast of Yonaguni-Jima, Japan, that were evidently carved right out of bedrock; megalithic ruins were found in the Channel near Cuba stretching for miles along the ocean floor; also near Yucatan in underwater caves, at the end of a 300-foot road stands stone temples and pyramids in 14 caves; a recently discovered stone-head was found in the waters of Lake Trafuo in Patagonia, Argentina; a collapsed wall or sunken road and numerous multiple tiers of carved stone off the North Bimini island in the Bahamas; a sunken city has been identified off the southern Laconia coast of Greece, which was occupied 5,000 years ago; an underwater Stone Age settlement has been located off the coast of Southampton, England; and sunken buildings have been found near the south shore of Okinawa, and its neighboring islands Kerama and Aguni over some 311 miles.
The Yonaguni monument is over 164 feet long, 98 feet wide, and from 16 feet beneath the surface to a depth of 82 feet. Note the tiny size of the diver in the upper right
    Of course we know that the City of Enoch was taken from the Earth (Moses 7:69); and in the days of Peleg, about 101 years after the Flood, “the earth was divided” (Genesis 10:25; 1 Chronicles 1:19).
    The point is, land has risen or sunk throughout recorded history. Unfortunately, modern man has a firm belief that the world was always as it is now, without realizing the changes that have taken place over the centuries. However, we have been given sufficient knowledge to know and understand that changes have taken place, and in some cases, what those changes would have been.
(See the next post, “Changing Land of Promise—The Effect of Rising Mountains - Part VI and the Disappearing Sea East,” for more information on the changes wrought by the events described in 3 Nephi, and their effect on the Land of Promise before and after 34 A.D. and how the Lord intervened to change this landscape in three hours)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Changing Land of Promise—The Effect of Rising Mountains - Part IV

Continuing with the past three posts and our understanding of how the changes described in 3 Nephi affected the landscape of the Land of Promise and what that means to us today.     
     While this separation of South America and inland waterways open to the sea (discussed in the last post) was basically unknown to most of history, and the geologic time scale placed it far into the past and out of the public conscience, it was studied by a few. Even Charles Darwin as late as 1835 suspected that the giant mountains, huge volcanoes and great earthquakes that occur along the Pacific coast of South America were related in a much more recent time frame, and others have been exploring this area, which has had a profound effect on modern thinking.
The 400-foot deep-sea scientific drilling rig named "Glomar Challenger," can extract material from the ocean floor as deep as 4900 feet. It takes five months to dig one hole, and during that time acoustic positioning beacons are used to keep the rig in place while the drill pipe passes first through the water, then into the seabed to start its drilling
    The Glomar Challenger, the first research vessel built to drill core samples from the deep ocean seabed, proved on Leg 3 during its 1968-1969 mission what was first suspected as early as 1596 by Abraham Ortelius and more developed in 1912 by Alfred Wegener, that plate tectonics existed. During Leg 68 in 1979, the Challenger found that the Isthmus of Panama at one time was submerged, verifying that the Arato Sea had once flowed between the Atlantic and Pacific. Then, very recently in geologic time, the South American plate subsequently moved northward impacting this peninsular extension of Central America, and formed the Isthmus of Panama (see our post of September 1, 2012 “The Odyssey of the Glomar Challenger Drillship and the Panama Isthmus”).
    As a side note for those who might be interested, the Challenger also discovered that while geologists claim the Earth is 4.55 billion years old, that the ocean floor was less than 200 million years old.
    In any event, while Darwin was the first to recognize and write about this in the modern era, by the 1960s, geologists realized that these phenomena were all consequences of the fact that the oceanic Nazca plate was sliding under the South American plate.
As the Oceanic Nazca Plate slid under the Continental South America Plate, the crust was squeezed together, shooting folded earth upward, forming the Andes. The faster this collision the faster the Andes appeared and rose to great heights
    While scientists studying plate tectonics have been able to observe changes only as they accumulated in the geologic record over millions of years, due to the continent-sized plates moving only a few inches each year, modern GPS technology has been refined to get sub-centimeter accuracy. The results now show that under normal circumstances, about three inches of motion per year occurs between the Nazca and South American plates, and is divided three ways.
    According to NASA and the National Science Foundation, the rise of the Andes is about 1.4 inches per year of the Nazca plate slides smoothly under South America, giving rise to volcanoes. Another 1.3 inches per year is locked up at the plate boundary, squeezing South America, and is released every hundred years or so in great earthquakes. About 0.3 inches of motion per year crumples South America, building the Andes.
    The interesting part of this is the new findings by Carmala Garzione, et all, (see last post), show a broad range of geologic indicators, including the history of folding and faulting, erosion, volcanic eruptions, and sediment accumulation, which all suggests a hotly debated tectonic process called delamination is likely at work in the Andes. Although delamination has been proposed for decades, Garzione says it has been controversial because mechanical models of mountain-building have a hard time reproducing it, and, until the new findings, there has been a lack of reliable measurements.
    In geophysics, delamination refers to the loss and sinking (foundering) of the portion of the lowermost lithosphere from the tectonic plate to which it was attached. Thus, when oceanic and continental plates come together, geologists believe the continental crust buckles. On the surface, the buckling manifests itself as a rising mountain range, but beneath the crust, Garione claims, the buckling creates a heavy, high-density "root" that holds the crust down like an anchor. Conventional tectonic theory says that convection of the fluid mantle deep in the Earth slowly erodes this heavy root like a stream wearing down a rock, allowing mountains to gradually rise as the crust shortens and thickens.
    Delamination has often been cited to explain regional uplift whether by “peeling” of the lithospheric mantle and in some cases a part of the lower crust, or by viscous dripping (convective removal). Various geodynamic contexts such as high plateau near a plate boundary such as Tibet, Anatolia, or the Andes are places where delamination is believed to occur. In the image below of an oblique lateral view, an asthenospheric flow introducing the lower crust decouples the lithospheric mantle, which delaminates and sinks into the asthenosphere.
Yellow Arrow: The upper crust; Red Arrow: The lower crust; White Arrow: Decoupled lower crust; Green Arrow: Delaminating lithospheric mantle
    According to Garzione, the delamination theory suggests that instead of eroding slowly away over a long period of time, the root heats up and oozes downward like a drop of molasses until it abruptly breaks free and sinks into the hot fluid mantle. The mountains above, suddenly free of the weight of the blob, would rush, or “pop” upward in geologic terms, and form mountains much faster than was ever believed.
Shown differently, the horizontal tectonic forces can push lithosphere deep into the mantle, building mountains upward as it increases. When this lithosphere separates (delaminates), the mountains above can “pop up” much faster than previously believed
    Obviously, no human has seen the forming or creation of the Earth, (nor other than those involved at the time) seen Noah’s Flood, the division of the Earth in Peleg’s time, or the changes at the time of the Crucifixion. Consequently, these events have no meaning to non-believers. They obviously are not accepted by those who geologically measure earthly events. Thus, geologists and others know about minute changes, but know nothing of the Lord’s power or understand how He has been involved in the altering of the Earth since its organization (creation).
    So we have to look outside the geologic world and into that special world of the believer in God the Father and His son, Jesus Christ. In that world, we can talk about that great Architect who created the earth in the first place. During the crucifiion, in the space of three hours, he pushed, squeezed and realigned the tectonic plates by the “power of his word,” and by that power delaminated the mountain core of the proto-Andean uplift until mountains, “whose height is great” shot into the sky all along the Andean uplift. The pressure caused earthquakes all along the Pacific coast of South America as God sent the Nazca plate ramming deeper under the South American plate that “shook the whole earth as if it was about to divide asunder” (3 Nephi 8:6), And there was a great and terrible destruction in the land southward…and there was a more great and terrible destruction in the land northward; for behold, the whole face of the land was changed, because of the…exceedingly great quaking of the whole earth” (3 Nephi 11-12).
     As these tall mountains came up, the seas to the east of the Land of Promise were pushed back—the Pebesian Sea into the North and East portal seaways (and out into the Atlantic), around both sides of the emerged Guayanan Shield, the Marine Ingression Amazon Sea was pushed eastward between the emerged Guayanhan and Brazilian Shields, and the Paranense Sea was pushed southeast through the South portal seaway to the east of Patagonia and west of the southern Brazilian Shield. At the same time, the rise of the Andes brought up the adjoining lands to the east, filling in the Amazon Basin and pushing out through what became the Amazon River the previous marine ingression, forming the Amazon Delta, and over time the subaqueous and subaserial accumulation of river-derived sediments formed at the mouth of the river that we see today.
The Amazon River discharges more water than any river in the world, averaging about 7,381,000 cubic feet per second, which is more than the next seven largest rivers combined, and has the largest drainage basin in the world at 2,720,000 square miles, accounting for one-fifth of the world's total river flow. The width of the Amazon is between 1.0 and 6.2 miles at low stage but expands during the wet season to 30 miles or more in width, and enters the Atlantic Ocean in a broad estuary about 150 miles wide. Because of its vast dimensions, it is sometimes called "The River Sea"
    At this time, with the Andes mountains we now see at their considerable height, still isolating the western coastal shelf of South America from the eastward lands, the Nephite Sea East ceased to exist.
(See the next post, “Changing Land of Promise—The Effect of Rising Mountains - Part V and the Disappearing Sea East,” for more information on the changes wrought by the events described in 3 Nephi, and their effect on the Land of Promise before and after 34 A.D. and how the Lord intervened to change this landscape in three hours)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Changing Land of Promise—The Effect of Rising Mountains - Part III

Continuing with the past two posts and our understanding of how the changes described in 3 Nephi affected the landscape of the Land of Promise and what that means to us today.
As for the sudden rise of the Andes, modern geologists have recently concluded that the Andes rose quiet rapidly (in geologic terms), as portions of the dense lower crust and upper mantle that act like an anchor on the base of the crust are periodically detached and sink through the mantle as the thickened continental plate heats up. Detachment of this dense anchor allows Earth's low-density upper crust to rebound and rise rapidly.
This was the conclusion of Carmala Garzione (left), professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Rochester and colleagues after several years of studying the Andes range (“Clumped isotope evidence for diachronous surface cooling of the Altiplano and pulsed surface uplift of the Central Andes,” Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 2014.) She and her team concluded that as the oceanic plate slipped under the continental plate, the latter shortened and thickened, increasing the pressure on the lower crust. The basaltic composition of the lower crust converted to a very high-density rock called eclogite, which served as an anchor to the low-density upper crust. As this root was forced deeper into the hotter part of the mantle, it heated to a temperature where it could be rapidly removed, resulting in the sudden rise of the mountain range. This is called a “rapid growth spurt,” which Garzione claims characterized the rise of the Andes. In fact this “swift rise” theory has been validated by other geologists.
    Not only that, but The work of one of Garzione's post-doctoral research fellows, Gregory D. Hoke, corroborates the sudden rise of the Andes and shows that not just the mountains, but a broad region more than 350 miles wide rose to some degree with the Andes. In research soon to be published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Hoke describes his findings on how rivers carved deep canyons into the flanks of the Andes as the mountain range rose. By dating the incisions and mapping the depth and extent of the canyons, Hoke shows that the surface uplift that occurred in the sedimentary basin where Garzione took her measurements must have happened across the entire width of the Andes Mountain range.
Suddenly, in the space of three hours, very tell mountains rose up where none had existed before  (Helaman 14:23; 3 Nephi 8:19)
    So what was the impact of this sudden rise on the Nephite lands? As an example, we actually know little about the topography of the Land of Promise after 34 A.D. For instance, we know that the hill Shim existed after the destruction outlined in 3 Nephi (Mormon 1:3; 4:23), and the hill Cumorah (Mormon 6:2), which was called Ramah by the Jaredites (Ether 15:11), though it is not mentioned by Moroni as such in his description (Ether 9:3). We also know that the land of many waters, rivers and fountains existed afterward as well (Mormon 6:4), though when mentioned earlier (Mosiah 8:8) no rivers and fountains are revealed; and the waters of Sidon (though no river is mentioned) still existed along the borders of Zarahemla (Mormon 1:10).
    We also know that the West Seashore existed (Mormon 2:6), and the Sea that Divides the Land near the City of Desolation, which was near the narrow neck of land (Mormon 2:6; 3:8; 4:3). Yet, the narrow neck of land is not mentioned, though the narrow passage is—perhaps in some way the division between the Land Southward and the Land Northward was no longer a neck of land between seas, though the same egress was there—the narrow passage. This may be the result of the Sea East disappearing, perhaps, since it is never mentioned after 3 Nephi. Perhaps those mountains, which rose to a great height blocked off the Sea East in some way.
In one of the more enlightening statements regarding the geography of the Land of Promise, Samuel the Lamanite makes a few simple statements, but ones that have a very significant impact on the land. He tells us:
    1. Existing mountains disappeared, falling to become valleys.
    2. Valleys rose significantly into mountains, “whose height is great.”
    3. The solid rock base of the ground, both above and beneath the earth, was broken up.
    4. Hills formed, burying existing cities beneath them.
    Now, if we take a look at these events, which by the way, “covered all the face of the land,” and “changed the whole face of the land,” with “exceeding damage,” (even the Lord himself said, "And many great destructions have I caused to come upon this land" (3 Nephi 9:12), we should see that what was known before would be changed considerably, no doubt being quite different afterward than it had been before.
    How can mountains disappear and not have an effect on the topography of the land? And how can new, very high mountains appear, without it creating new rivers and having a considerable effect on the climate and the layout of the land?
    When we also see that the sea was changed to ingress inland and sink great cities into its depth, and mountains rose up high over existing cities, why would we not think of the tremendous impact such changes would create?
    Also, when mountains rise to great heights suddenly like these described, they would take with their rise whatever had been at the lower level before, such as waters that would create alpine lakes, cities that would be elevated to considerable heights, planted fields that would be transformed into Cliffside plots, and no doubt, the disruption of coastlines and seacoasts. Sea-level, salt-water fish would be in alpine salt-water lakes, entire drainage basins would be eliminated and new ones formed. New weather patterns would emerge, snow where it might not have been before would occur, especially among these mountains “whose height is great.” Lower elevation crops would be destroyed, and new ones engineered for higher level ground.
The fact that none of these results of the destruction are recorded in the scriptural record does not change the fact that most, if not all of these changes would occur out of necessity when valleys ceased to exist and rise into very tall mountains. The fact that Nephi the disciple chose to write about the significant appearance of Christ and his message suggests its far greater importance than the temporal changes that occurred, but we ought to recognize that those changes would most certainly have followed the events described and in so doing, changed the “face of the entire land,” as pointed out by Nephi.
    One of those changes would have been the effects of rising mountains on the seacoast and what lie to the east of the Land of Promise. Originally, of course, there was the Sea East, which was a coastal area covering the entire eastern coast of the entire Land of Promise, including both the Land Southward (Alma 22:32) and the Land Northward (Ether 9:3) and the narrow neck of land in between (Alma 50:34). One can only wonder what happened to this Sea East at the time of all this destruction that “changed the entire face of the whole earth,” since it is never mentioned again.
    As has been pointed out here, it seems significant that the term “Sea East” or “East Sea” does not appear in the scriptural record after 3 Nephi, neither in the Land Southward nor in the Land Northward, nor in conjunction with the narrow passage. Keep in mind that in the description of the narrow passage before this destruction, it is mentioned in connection with the sea: ”by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:34), but not afterward.
    Does this mean the Sea East no longer existed after 3 Nephi? Obviously, we do not know that from the scriptural record, though much points to that possibility. Jacob, after all, tells us the Nephites were on an island (2 Nephi 10:20). That island no longer exists, which means that either Jacob didn’t know what he was talking about, nor did Nephi who recorded it, or something happened somewhere along the line to change the Land of Promise from an island to its present configuration.
    Such a change, as an example, took place in South America. Along the western shores of the present Andes existed in 600 B.C. (see a later post for a full explanation of these dates) a long and narrow island, matching the lengthwise Andean uplift. To the west was the Pacific Ocean, and to the east was the epicontinental seas, named the Pebesian, Amazon and Paranense. There is some discussion among geologists today as to whether these three seas were interconnected (forming just one actual sea) or if there was some division between one, two or all three, however, “the fact remains that most of the Amazon basin and the Paranáa River basin and the Pampas were under the sea.” Even parts of Patagonia were submerged, though the Somuncuráa Plateau and the Deseado shield were emerged land.
    In the north, beyond where present day Colombia is now located according to Anthony Coares, a staff scientists emeritus at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, tells us that “when the area that is now Panama was still a peninsula, ocean currents moving north along the north coast of South America spilled over to the Pacific Ocean through the wide Central American Seaway, also called the Atrato Seaway. As tectonic plate movement joined the peninsula with South America to form the present-day Isthmus of Panama, equatorial ocean currents between the Atlantic and Pacific were cut off, forcing water northward into the Gulf Stream current.” 
    This seaway covered what is now Panama, connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific, and a narrow waterway broke into the Pebesian Sea from the north (what is now the Caribbean Sea), covering much of what is now Colombia as it merged with the Pebesian.
(See the next post, “Changing Land of Promise—The Effect of Rising Mountains - Part IV,” for more information on the changes wrought by the events described in 3 Nephi, and their effect on the Land of Promise before and after 34 A.D. and how the Lord intervened to change this landscape in three hours)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Changing the Land of Promise—The Effect of Rising Mountains - Part II

Continuing with our understanding of how the changes described in 3 Nephi affected the landscape of the Land of Promise and what that means to us today. As an example, the sudden appearance of tall mountains (Helaman 14:23) would create extreme moisture changes that would affect severe topography changes. Take the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, a 600-mile strip of land west of the Andes covering about 49,000 square miles that is the driest non-polar desert in the world, having received no significant rainfall since 1570 when records were kept. 
Top: Atacama Desert; Bottom: Just a few miles away, the Amazon Rain Forest
    Yet, on the east side of the Andes, only a couple of hundred miles away, is the Amazon rainforest—the largest rainforest on earth. Because air pressure and air temperature decrease with altitude, when the sudden rise of these mountains described in 3 Nephi occurred, air flowing over these new mountains was forced higher and higher, expanding, cooling, and condensing, causing more and more precipitation to fall on the windward (east) side of the mountain slope as clouds rose, became heavier, and were forced to dump their rain. At the same time, warm air dropped down the back side (west), sinking, warming and evaporating, stripping the moisture from the air resulting in a rain shadow effect for areas down wind from the mountain—the higher the mountain, the more pronounced the rain shadow is and the less likely rain will fall on the leeward side at all. With mountains “whose height is great” moisture on the leeward becomes nearly non-existent and a desert is formed—which increased over time with no rainfall at all and the desert increased in dryness until we see it today as the Atacama.
    However, this would have occurred in 34 A.D. and afterward, meaning that during Nephi’s trek northward to escape his brothers and the sons of Ishmael nearly 600 years earlier, they would have traveled through not a desert, but the typical landscape that existed along the coastal stretch prior to the rise of these mountains.
    In addition, when the existing mountains of the land collapsed, tumbling into valleys, whatever wind, clouds and precipitation that existed would have changed.  Obviously, for all this to have been a “sign” it had to have been quite noticeable to the inhabitants of the Land of Promise. When Samuel talked of a sign as to Christ’s  birth, he told the Nephites:
    And behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day. Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night before he is born. And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you. And behold this is not all, there shall be many signs and wonders in heaven. And it shall come to pass that ye shall all be amazed, and wonder, insomuch that ye shall fall to the earth” (Helaman 14:3-7).
A stark mountain range that rises up out of a valley—such an event would have been so noticeable, no one could have denied its occurrence. “and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great”
    These “signs” would obviously have been clearly seen and understood by the Nephites when they occurred. And that was their purpose—to be seen and understood. Of this Samuel said that the intent of the signs was that they might believe that these signs and these wonders should come to pass upon all the face of this land, to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men” (Helaman 14:28).
    Consequently, when one of the signs of the Savior’s crucifixion was given, Samuel said, Yea, at the time that he shall yield up the ghost there shall be thunderings and lightnings for the space of many hours, and the earth shall shake and tremble; and the rocks which are upon the face of this earth, which are both above the earth and beneath, which ye know at this time are solid, or the more part of it is one solid mass, shall be broken up; Yea, they shall be rent in twain, and shall ever after be found in seams and in cracks, and in broken fragments upon the face of the whole earth, yea, both above the earth and beneath. And behold, there shall be great tempests, and there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great. And many highways shall be broken up, and many cities shall become desolate” (Helaman 14:21-24).
There are 101 peaks in the Andes that top out at 20,000 feet or more--they are by far the tallest mountains in the entire Western Hemisphere. They are certainly mountains "whose height is great"
    Again, the purpose of these “signs” was to insure that the people “might know and remember at the time of their coming that they had been made known unto them beforehand, to the intent that they might believe” (Helaman 16:5)
    And just as obviously, such a “sign” would not be of value if it was not a significant event, if it was one that could be attributed to some other, natural source. So when Samuel speaks of mountains rising out of flat ground and rising to such noticeable heights that they would be seen and undeniably understood to be mountains “whose height is great,” we need to believe that he knew what he was talking about--and that great height was, indeed, very high.
    We also have in Nephi, son of Lehi, a second witness to these events, when Nephi records them in his vision (1 Nephi 12:4). Thus we need to see a Land of Promise that has numerous mountains, “whose height is great” in our seeking the location of Lehi’s promised land. Not just one or two or three, but many mountains—a significant number of very tall mountains that would be seen over a large enough area for the Nephites to be well aware of their rising and existence in order to justify Samuel’s description that such a “sign” of these mountains rising up out of the ground to such heights as to show the Nephites of that time the Lord had truly “given up the ghost” and fulfilled his assignment to bring about the atonement and the resurrection.
    In addition, these mountains would not just be something seen by those in the city of Zarahemla, for Samuel, when he fled from the Nephites “as they went forth to lay their hands on him, behold, he did cast himself down from the wall, and did flee out of their lands, yea, even unto his own country, and began to preach and to prophesy among his own people. And behold, he was never heard of more among the Nephites” (Helaman 16:7-8, emphasis mine).
    In fact, we understand that this destruction and these “signs” occurred not only in the Land Southward (in the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi), but also occurred in the Land of Bountiful (3 Nephi 11:1), as well as in the entire Land Northward (3 Nephi 8:12), where even greater events occurred. These events were so significant, and widely understood that after their occurrence, “there were a great multitude gathered together, of the people of Nephi, round about the temple which was in the land Bountiful; and they were marveling and wondering one with another, and were showing one to another the great and marvelous change which had taken place” (3 Nephi 11:1, emphasis mine).
    One can only wonder at the numerous changes that took place in the Land of Promise. Nephi tells us “And thus the face of the whole earth became deformed” (3 Nephi 8:17). Whatever the topography of the area today of where the Nephites settled, would undoubtedly be significantly different than prior to the cataclysmic changes that the destruction in 3 Nephi brought about. It is unlikely that where rivers, lakes, and valleys existed prior to the crucifixion, that they would be in the same location and along the same courses as before.
    As an example, the mighty Mississippi River, over geologic time, has experienced numerous large and small changes to its main course, as well as additions, deletions, and other changes among its numerous tributaries. The lower Mississippi River has used different pathways as its main channel to the Gulf of Mexico across the delta region through a natural process known as avulsion or delta switching, which is the process in sedimentary geology and fluvial geomorphology of rapid abandonment of a river channel and the formation of a new river channel. And this under normal circumstances. One can only wonder at what drastic changes rivers might have taken when mountains “tumbled into pieces” and valleys became mountains “whose height is great.”
Consider this mountain tumbling into pieces and filling up the canyon or valley below. Whatever might have existed in that valley would obviously be changed considerably after such an event
What would happen to this river if these mountains tumbled into pieces and fell into the canyon? Likely, other openings through these mountains would occur and the river would change course into these new openings, seeking a new path of least resistance
What if these mountains tumbled into pieces up around the headwaters of this river? Might not the river seek another route to the sea, perhaps in a completely different direction? Could even be down the opposite side of the headwaters
    The point is, claiming specific locations on a current map as the river Sidon, or the Waters of Mormon, or the hill Manti or Amnihu is likely going to be in error. There is simply no way to make such a claim not knowing what changes in the topography the events described in 3 Nephi had to the overall Land of Promise. That these changes were extensive is well recorded, that they covered the entire land is also well recorded.
(See the next post, “Changing Land of Promise—The Effect of Rising Mountains - Part III,” for more information on the changes wrought by the events described in 3 Nephi, and their effect on the Land of Promise before and after 34 A.D.)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Changing the Land of Promise—The Effect of Rising Mountains - Part I

One of the most important things to keep in mind about any model location of the Land of Promise is the world in which the Land of Promise existed. That is, what the world was like between the Jaredite times (just after the Flood), around 2100 B.C., through the Nephite and Mulekite times (600 B.C. to 400 A.D.), and then the Lamanite times afterward, from 400 A.D. to 1519, when the Spanish arrived in Mexico, and 1532 when the Spanish arrived in Peru, and what that world looks like today. 
    To think that the Land of Promise today would be exactly as it appeared then, would be a mistake. Many drastic changes took place in the Land of Promise around 34 A.D.
    1. Existing Mountains tumbling into pieces (1 Nephi 12:4) and fell down and became valleys (Helaman 14:23).
    2. Plains of the earth were broken up (1 Nephi 12:4).
    3. Valleys rose to form mountains “whose height was great” (Helaman 14:23).
Some fissures are huge and very deep, others bubble up from mud volcanoes, everything around them sinking into the depths
    4. Cities were sunk into the depths of the earth (3 Nephi 9:6).
    5. Cities were covered over by hills and mountains (3 Nephi 8:10; 9:8)
    6. Cities sunk into the seas and were covered over by the ocean (3 Nephi 8:9; 9:7).
At least two sunken cities have been found beneath Lake Titicaca along the Peru-Bolivia border
    7. Buildings and cities were shaken and fell to the ground and their places were left desolate (3 Nephi 8:14).
    8. Highways were broken up and level roads spoiled (3 Nephi 8:13). In 1828, the word "spoiled" meant "rendered useless."
    9. Numerous cities were burned to the ground (3 Nephi 9:3, 9-10).
    10. Solid rocks above and beneath the earth were “rent in twain” [split in two, creating fissures between] and broken up into seams [cracked, fissured] and cracks [to break without a separation of parts] (Helaman 14:21-22).
    11. The damage was exceedingly great” (3 Nephi 8:15).
    12. Changes were upon “all the face of the land” (Helaman 14:28).
    13. The whole face of the land was changed (3 Nephi 8:12).
    As a result of all this destruction and change, it would be imprudent to think that the Land of Promise of Nephi’s time would be similar to any map or location area of today. Consider, as an example, mountains disappearing and valleys rising into mountains of great height. That alone would require a tremendous change in the topography of an area, and would alter the flow of rivers and their courses, change size and location of mountain lakes, and the courses of water flowing to the sea.
    And since this occurred in the Land Southward (3 Nephi 8:11) and in the Land Northward (3 Nephi 8:12), we cannot relegate these changes to a local or limited area. They were widespread and covered a large area of the Land of Promise.
Now, consider cities sinking into the sea. What would cause such devastation? Obviously, the ground where the city was built had to sink into the depths of the sea, since seas don’t typically rise or lower permanently more than inches or a foot or two, and since the scriptural record says, “cities were sunk” we are not just talking about a tsunami tidal wave that returns to the sea, but of an entire city that “sinks” beneath the sea. In 1828, the word “sink” meant “to become deep; to retire or fall within the surface of any thing. To put under water, to immerse, as to sink a ship.” 
Thus, we can envision a coastal area that collapsed and sunk and, since there were several such cities (3 Nephi 8:14; 9:7), this coastal area might have been quite large. Obviously, such would have changed the coast line considerably. In addition, since the city of Moroni, situated along the east coast south, near the Land of Nephi (Alma 50:14), was one of these cities that sank (3 Nephi 8:9), it might be suggested that this east coastal area ended up quite different after 34 A.D. than before.
    Obviously, not only did cities sink into the sea, but the land around them sank as well, at least to the extent of the city itself. This makes sense when considering that when mountains rise from level ground, and a sea is involved, earth is displaced and water rushes in to cover the displacement. Most likely, this meant that the ground was fissured by the quaking of the earth, creating large enough clefts and chasms that the city fell into these deep canyons and the water rushed in to cover them up and form inland lakes or bays off the ocean.
    Consider the river Sidon. Is there any indication that it flowed in the same direction, from the same headwaters location, and into the same sea before 3 Nephi as afterward? In fact, we can’t say for certain the river Sidon existed after this time of destruction—we only know there were Waters of Mormon left.
    Another consideration of these changes is the wordage of Samuel the Lamanite when he said, as a sign for a future generation, that mountains would rise “whose height is great,” he obviously had in mind that these new mountains would be of a height greater than what was known in the land prior to this cataclysmic event. As an example, prior to 3 Nephi, Mormon mentioned the name “Sidon” 36 times; the “river Sidon” 27 times; and the “waters of Sidon” six times. After 3rd Nephi, Mormon mentions the name Sidon just once, and uses it in the sentence “waters of Sidon” (Mormon 1:10).
    Is that significant? We don’t know, but when you consider mountains “tumbling into pieces,” one might envision the headwaters of a river being altered in some way—and when mountains are formed, “whose height is great,” other headwaters or courses might be expected to develop. To better understand this, mountains have a major influence on climate, not only for mountain locations, but also the surrounding areas. When air flows over a mountain, it is forced upwards, and rising clouds moving over mountains can’t hold as much water, so they drop their rain, which causes more precipitation to fall on the windward side of the mountain slope, causing a “rain shadow.” (The higher the mountain the more pronounced the rain shadow effect is and the less likely rain will fall on the leeward side of the mountain; also, since temperature drops about 2 to 5 degrees per thousand feet of elevation, mountains “whose height is great” generally produce snow, which has a profound affect on mountain water sources).
    Imagine very tall mountains forming in a matter of hours and the profound influence this would have on both the immediate vicinity as well as areas hundreds of miles away, since these new mountains, jutting up into an otherwise orderly flow of winds around the globe, cause the winds to rise up over and around these new peaks and ridges. This, in turn, causes the air to cool and condense, forming clouds and precipitation, making the new mountain environment much wetter than before, and much more sodden than the surrounding lowlands.
The air then drops down the backside as warm air, which strips the moisture from the air resulting in a rain shadow effect for areas down wind from the mountain. Such change in airflow channeled through mountain canyons causes strong winds from air being squeezed between areas of higher elevations. These higher elevations cause cooler air, especially on the windward side, and such mountains can block or separate two different air masses from meeting.
    All of this effects snow and rain fall, creates or eliminates mountain lakes, establishes or eliminates sufficient moisture that builds headwaters of rivers, and determines the amount of water flowing down through canyons. Thus, suddenly, in a three hour period, mountains that might have had rivers flow down them tumbled to the ground, eliminating that water flow and river completely, or causing it to become a lake along a valley floor—“ there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley” (Helaman 14:23)—and other mountains rise to great heights—“there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great”—obviously, affecting future water sources, creating mountain lakes and rivers flowing down steep elevations, adding forks and eliminating others, raging through canyons, on their search for a path to the sea. Such rivers begin at their source in higher ground such as mountains or hills, where rain water or melting snow collects and forms tiny streams, with the water running downhill in rivulets, which collect into creeks, which collect into rivers.
Top: Rivers are formed by gravity and seek the path of least resistance. If that path changes, the river changes course; Bottom: Result of streams or rivers that have had their course changed, leaving dry beds
    While all of this is just a scenario, it should be recognized that eliminating mountains and creating others would have a tremendous effect on the climate, rain or snow fall and the flowing of rivers. To think that what Mormon writes about prior to 34 A.D. is going to be the same as after this destruction “in all the land” is not only poor scholarship, but quite self-serving.
(See the next post, “Changing Land of Promise—The Effect of Rising Mountains - Part II,” for more information on the changes wrought by the events described in 3 Nephi, and their effect on the Land of Promise before and after 34 A.D.)