Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Meet the Cratons of South America


Geologic history shows that certain parts of South America were the only ones above water until the Andes rose up to their great height, which also brought the Amazon Basin and most of the eastern portion of the land up out of the water. At the same time, the Panama Isthmus rose up to connect Central and South America.

The geologic history of South America can be summarized in different developmental stages, and was characterized by a complex series of amalgamations and dispersals of stable blocks of protocontinental crust called cratons. The second stage coincides time the cratons and material accreted to them which contributed to the formation of continents. The third stage was the development of continents themselves.

As an example, in South America the duration known as Louis Aivew are known in the Amazonia, Luis Alves, and São Francisco cratons, although precisely dated rock samples are scarce. Ages older than 3 billion years have been reported in the Imataca Complex of Venezuela and in the Xingu area of Brazil, both in the Amazonia craton. The oldest rocks found so…


Cratons are the building blocks of continents

There are five cratons—Amazonia, São Francisco, Luis Alves, Alto Paraguay, and Río de la Plata—that represent the core of South America, and (with the exception of the Alto Paraguay craton) those now appear as upwarped massifs arrayed from north to south in the immense eastern portion of the continent; a number of other crustal blocks were also accreted along the margins of South America over geologic time.

The lofty ranges and intermontane plateaus of the Andes rise along the entire western margin of the continent and represent the collision of the Pacific and South American plates brought about by the opening of the South Atlantic. Finally, vast, down warped, sediment-filled basins are found between the cratons and along the entire eastern margin of the Andes. The term craton is used to distinguish the stable portion of the continental crust from regions that are more geologically sactive and unstable.

The present tectonic framework of South America consists of three fundamental units: the ancient cratons, the relatively recent Andean ranges, and a number of basins. The term craton is used to distinguish the stable portion of the continental crust from regions that are more geologically active and unstable. Cratons can be described as shields, in which the basement rock crops out at the surface, and platforms, in which the basement is overlaid by sediments and sedimentary rock.

This means that the craton is typically elevated enough to be seen above the surface and appears as small or large islands in the midst of the sea. These stable fragments of continental crust, which are an old and stable part of the continental lithosphere that consists of the Earth's two topmost layers, the crust and the uppermost mantle. Having often survived cycles of merging and rifting of continents, cratons are generally found in the interiors of tectonic plates, and are characteristically composed of ancient crystalline basement rock, which may be covered by younger sedimentary rock. They have a thick crust and deep lithospheric roots that extend as much as several hundred miles into the Earth's mantle.

In South America, these ancient cratons that rose along the eastern borders of the continent, called the Brazilian craton and the Guiaha craton, have often survived cycles of merging and rifting of continents, cratons are generally found in the interiors of tectonic plates. They are characteristically composed of ancient crystalline basement rock, which may be covered by younger sedimentary rock.

In Ecuador lies one of the best episodes ever found where a sedimental layer is deposited over preexisting rock, and where two units were juxtaposed by a fracture on which the fracture has slid.

All of this leads one to understand what geologists have long told us—that the Amazonian Basin was long submerged until it surfaced in recent geologic times.            

Best road cut ever? Quite possibly. Fall out from several episodes of activity at Chimborazo volcano, Ecuador

In geology, basement and crystalline basement are the rocks below a sedimentary platform or cover, or more generally any rock below sedimentary rocks or sedimentary basins that are metamorphic or igneous in origin.

The Amazonian Craton is a geologic province located in South America. It occupies a large portion of the central, north and eastern part of the continental base and only the Guiana Shield and Central Brazilian Shield (Guaporé Shield) constitutes respectively the northern and southern exhumed parts of the basement craton.

It should also be noted that the extensive central cratons of continents may consist of both shields and platforms. A shield is that part of a craton in which (usually) basement rocks crop out extensively at the surface. By contrast, in a platform the basement is overlain by horizontal or subhorizontal sediments.

This means that in the past, when South America was mostly submerged, there were a few areas that were above water, i.e., the western shelf from Colombia to middle Chile (Santiago), and from the west coast inland to what is now the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains. At the same time, there were shields above the surface along other east areas of the continent—Brazilian and Guiana.

As for the Panama knot, the Glomar Challenger deep sea drilling rig confirmed this understanding when it showed that Panama, at one time in recent history, was not connected to South America. In addition, as many geologists now recognize, the Andes mountains rose suddenly, also in recent history.

The fact is, that the western strip, or Andean area, of South America—that land west of the Andes—has always been considered as separate and generally referred to as the Andean Plateau or just Peru. Consequently, the word Peru is generally used by archaeologists to include not only the modern Republic of Peru, but also the highlands of Bolivia and often the northernmost part of Chile as well, although some historians and scholars have also included all of Ecuador in this term and almost all of Chile, while still others include southern Colombia.

This cultural area shared a common tradition of long duration and is often called by archaeologists the Central Andes. It extends westward from the Andes to the Pacific Ocean and from just above the equator to about 35º south latitude. Further south, the land does not offer an agreeable living climate.

It is the agreement of those who have traveled the Chilean coastal lands that this narrow fringe of western land hangs from the Andes Cordillera, second only to the Himalaya in height, like a gray balcony over the largest of oceans. The desert at the northern boundary with Peru, the natural frontier of the Andes with Bolivia and Argentina, and the sea in the west and south give Chile the psychological character of an island; which certainly fits the description given by Jacob and Nephi about their land of promise being an island (2 Nephi 10:20).

Basement Rock rises to form hills and mountains

To the east of the amazing Andes Mountains lies the Amazon basin, which at one time was entirely underwater and even today, is rarely more than 14 feet above sea level, with much of it at or just below sea level. It is the largest river basin in the world, covering an area of about three million square miles, making it more than twice the size of the next largest river basin, with the river having eleven times the volume of the Mississippi.

The Amazon used to flow westward into the Pacific until the Andes Mountains rose up to block its westward flow, causing it to become a vast inland sea. As the eastern continent rose up out of the water, it became a massive swampy, freshwater lake and eventually a river outlet to the receding Atlantic Ocean, with a vast near-continent wide river basin about the size of the United States. This amazing river is as large as the next 8 world rivers combined, and the volume of water flowing from the basin into the sea is about 11% of all the water drained from the continents of the earth.

The greatest flow occurs in July, and the least in November. While there are many rivers flowing through the basin, the most important and well known is the Amazon. The width of the Amazon ranges from about one mile to as wide as six miles, and during flood season, as wide as twenty-two miles. However, the Amazon is only about 20 to 40 feet deep, and runs westward for 1000 miles, the river itself rising only 144 feet compared to the Mississippi, which drops 1475 feet. Geologists agree that in times past, this vast basin was submerged until the rising of the Andes, which brought this basin and the land surrounding it up out of the water to form the continent of South America as we see it today.

When taking all of this into consideration, it is not hard to visualize that the entire basin area east of the present-day Andes was once under water as Jacob said and Nephi recorded (2 Nephi 10:20).

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Mulek landed in the Land North, and Lehi in the Land South


One of the most confusing scriptures in the Book of Mormon is the one pointing toward who landed and where did they land. There are several scriptural indications that tell us who landed where, but when considering them against pre-determined viewpoints tend to cloud the issue.

Take for instance the scripture regarding where Lehi landed and where Mulek landed.

The Land Northward and the Land Southward, or the island Jacob speaks about, was only part or South America

The scripture is really quite simple: “Now the land south was called Lehi and the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah; for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south” (Helaman 6:10).

So what are the Boundaries of the Land of Promise?” We have distinct scriptures regarding this question. The first is the scripture in Helaman stated above. Another is found in Alma 22, when Mormon describes the north-south relationship of the Land of Promise.

When one reads that sentence with a pre-determined attitude, such as thinking the land is an East-West direction as some modelists believe such as  Mesoamerica and also Heartland models theorists, then it is easy to get the directions wrong. So obviously, we need to interpret both the Land North one and the Land Northward as being in the north—but not the same place. How do we know this?

The Disciple Nephi tells us that “they began to know that the Son of God must shortly appear; yea, in fine, all the people upon the face of the whole earth from the west to the east, both in the land north and in the land south, were so exceedingly astonished that they fell to the earth” (3 Nephi 1:17, emphasis added)

However, that still leaves us with two north directions—in addition we need to know if there is a difference between the two locations or if they mean the same thing. Moroni answered that question when he rent his clothes and yelled: “And it came to pass that when he had poured out his soul to God, he named all the land which was south of the land Desolation, yea, and in fine, all the land, both on the north and on the south—A chosen land, aAlma 46:17, emphasis added).

That is all the land south of the Land of Desolation, meaning all the land in the Land  Southward, Moroni called this a land of liberty—and he separated all the land in the Land southward, on the North and on the South—or into two divisions, Land North and Land South.

Thus, we see that the Land South and the Land Southward represent two distinct areas and not the same place. The same is applicable to the Land North and the Land Northward being two distinct separate locations. Every reader of the scriptural record, when looking at the geographical setting of events, should keep certain the geographical divisions in mind.

Division of the Land of Promise in the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon

Land of Promise: That portion of the land mentioned in “after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord” (Ether 13:2) and promised to Lehi in the statement: “we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed” (2 Nephi 1:5). That is, the Land of Promise overall, sometimes referred to in the early days of the Church as the Land of Zion, is the entire Western Hemisphere, but the “Land of Promise” granted to Lehi and his posterity is that area outlined and mentioned in the scriptural record, which is a much smaller area that the overall promised land;

• Land Promised to Lehi: What we often and loosely call the Land of Promise as it is outlined in the scriptural record, and consists of the Land Northward, originally occupied by the Jaredites, and the Land Southward, initially occupied by Lehi (Nephites and Lamanites) and also the Mulekites;

Land Southward: The area south of the narrow neck of land (south of the Land of Desolation), from the Land of Bountiful south to the Land of Nephi (the Land of Lehi) including the land of First Inheritance (where Nephi’s ship landed and they pitched their tents). This land included the Land of Lehi and the Land of Nephi, with the former at one time encompassing the entire area south of the narrow strip of wilderness except for that area called the Land of Nephi which included areas of the city of Nephi (Lehi-Nephi), Shilom, Shemlon, and later included Jerusalem, land of Middoni, etc.

The Land South: A division of the Land Southward, from the land of First Inheritance to the narrow strip of wilderness, originally called the Land of Lehi (Helaman 6:10), and included the Land of Nephi. It is also mentioned by Moroni as a part of the land of Liberty: “he named all the land which was south of the land Desolation, yea, and in fine, all the land, both on the north and on the south—A chosen land, and the land of liberty” (Alma 46:17);

The Land North: A division of the Land Southward, from the Land of Zarahemla (north of the narrow strip of wilderness) to the Land of Bountiful, the entire area called the Land of Zarahemla at times, though the term “Land of Zarahemla” also and most of the time refers to the small area around the city of Zarahemla and expands out to the borders as a county is larger than the city in most areas in the U.S. today (the county of Salt Lake contains the major cities of Magna, West Valley City, Murray, Cottonwood Heights, West Jordan, South Jordan, Sandy, Draper, Herriman, Lark, Bingham Canyon, Alta, Solitude, Brighton and a few municipalities such as Granite, White City, Belmont Heights, Riverton, Bluffdale, etc.—all are part of the Greater Sale Lake just like Gideon, Manti, Moroni, Lehik Morianton, Nephihah, Jershon, etc., were part of the Greater Land of Zarahemla). It also included an unnamed land between the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Bountiful (Helaman 4:5; 3 Nephi 3:23);

• Land Northward: That area north of the narrow neck of land beginning with the Land of Desolation and including such major lands as the Land of Cumorah and the Land of Many Waters, plus many smaller lands such as the Land of Teancum, Land of Shem, Land of Antum, and “whatsoever lands we passed by” (Mormon 5:4).

Thus, the Land North is in the Land Southward from Zarahemla to Bountiful, while the Land Northward is north of the narrow neck, from Desolation to Land of Many Waters and Cumorah.

• Central America (Mesoamerica). When Hagoth built ships that carried numerous people into a “land which was northward” (Alma 63:4-5), this was a land separated from the Land that Lehi inherited, or separate from Lehi’s Land of Promise that his children inherited. This was identifiable since the same type of advanced construction was used in the building of Mesoamerica as was used in the building of South America.

• North America (Heartland and Great Lakes). After those that went northward by ship settled down, a portion of those went further, into North America, into the Great Plains or Heartland, and north as far as the Great Lakes.

Thus, the entire Western Hemisphere was filled with people. If you think of the Land of Promise in this manner, you will not have any difficulty in understanding how the land and the Location of the people was eventually accomplished.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Dear Readers:

 I am Del's son Devon. I help run his Youtube account for the NephiCode. My father spends most of his time with my Mom, and studying/writing on this blog. Del loves writing and communicating with you all everyday. My father had a bad fall last Saturday at home. He has spent some time in the Hospital, and now is home in bed recovering.  His only frustration is not being able to write in his blog. I would love to lift his spirits and help with his recovery with some feedback from the Readers of his blog. If you can, please drop Del a comment on this blogs comment section, or email us at I will print it out for him to read. A note on his blog/books, what the work and studying he has done has impacted you would be great. 

Thank you,


Monday, August 17, 2020

Value of the High Mountains in the Land of Promise – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding the importance of the Andes Mountains in the Land of Promise.

Is southern Chile, the Andes descend into the sea, along the southwestern coast that extends 2,500 miles with at least x5,000 rocky islands

Continuing on with our coverage, then down the southern and northern tips of the continent, the Andes literally tumble into the sea, creating a myriad of islands. The Caribbean hubs of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire are actually peaks of an extensive submerged continuation of the Andes in the north. In the southern end, in Patagonia, there are numerous islands as well which belong to the same mountain chain. The Andes are part of the larger American Cordillera, which is a near-continuous chain of mountains that extend north all the way through North America.

As Moroni stated, ”after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord” (Ether 13:2). In a physical sense, as the waters receded, large waves and deep seas proceeded the continuation of the mountain uplift before the waters eventually settled back into what is now the Atlantic Ocean. At this time, the city of Moroni, along the east seashore was sunk into the depths of this sea as the waters rose and receded eastward (3 Nephi 8:9).

Further, in this turmoil of the sea, the city of Onihah and the city of Mocum, and the city of Jerusalem were also sunk into the depths of these waters (3 Nephi 9:6-7). In addition, the cities of Gilgal, Gadiandi, Gadiomnah, Jacob, and Gimgimno, were sunk into the earth and hills covered them (3 Nephi 9:8). Moronihah was also covered with earth that became a great mountain (3 Nephi 8:10).

The cataclysm flattened the terrain, sunk cities into the ground and into the sea, and left a large area of destruction

Of course, none of these cities were ever mentioned again after the cataclysm because they were destroyed in the upheaval. The East Sea and the Sidon River were also never heard from again following the destruction that hit the Land of Promise at the time of the Savior’s crucifixion in Jerusalem, when the “whole face of the land was changed” (3 Nephi 8:12) and “the face of the whole earth became deformed” (3 Nephi 8:17). It is likely that the East Sea receded into the Atlantic Ocean, and the Sidon River because of the rising of the Andes that altered or eliminated the course of the river.

Also, it should be noted that the use of the term “narrow neck of land” was never used again to describe that narrowness of area between the Land Northward and the Land Southward (Alma 22:32) following the cataclysm. This despite Mormon’s use of the term in Alma before the destruction, he never used the term “narrow neck” in the writing of his own book when he described this area during the signing of the treaty with the Lamanites that used this narrow neck as the division line between their forces.

It is also of note that even Moroni used the term “narrow neck” when abridging the plates of Ether. In fact, both Mormon and Moroni lived in the 4th century AD., about 350 to 400 years after the cataclysm and never mentioned “narrow neck” when wrting about events following the upheaval.

It should also be noted, that prior to the crucifixion, not only was the term “narrow neck” not used after the cataclysm, but instead, the term “narrow pass” or “narrow passage” (Mormon 2:29; 3:5) used, suggesting a change in the terrain of the narrow neck of land. It should also be mentioned that the terms narrow neck, small neck, narrow pass, and narrow passage, were all written by Mormon or Moroni, both living in the 4th century A.D., about 350 to 400 years after the cataclysm.

While some may find it hard to believe that the Andes Mountains arose only two thousand years ago, there has to be some mountain range arising out of the ground at that time as Samuel prophesied, and the disciple Nephi witnessed (3 Nephi 8:10). And since geologists claim the Andes are the youngest mountain range in the world, there seems little doubt that these self-same Andes were the mountains Samuel prophesied about, Nephi predicted (2 Nephi 26:5), Zenos saw in a vision (1 Nephi 19:11), and the disciple Nephi witnessed.

It is also interesting to note that the area of Lake Titicaca, now 12,500 feet above sea level, and covering 22,400 square miles along the border between eastern Peru and western Bolivia, is considered by geologists, marine biologists, and oceanographers, that it was once at sea level.

The Uyuni salt flats, widely known as the largest salt flat on earth. It was formed from the drainage of Lake Titicaca when it was a salt lake

Referred to as a fresh water lake today, Titicaca was a salt water lake in the past and fed the salt water Lake Poopo, and the salt flats surrounding Titicaca’s drainage area. Salt water fish and marine life are still found in the lake, though its size has dwindled over time, having once encompassed the entire salt flats area and drainage lakes.

Ruins on the shore and on the islands attest to the previous existence of one of the oldest civilizations known in the Americas, antedating the Christian era. The chief site is at Tiahuanaco, Bolivia, at the southern end of the lake. Tiahuanaco, also called Tiwanaku, is one of the oldest sites in all of Peru and, except for Sacsayhuaman and Pachacamac, has the largest and most intricately designed ancient cities of the Andes. Sometime around 200 AD., the city was abandoned. When the Spaniards came, they asked the Inca about this city (whose ruins were still nearly completely standing). The Inca merely shrugged, claiming it was built by the ancient ones. Their myths and legends claim this area was the beginning or foundation of the ancient native civilization.

One interesting fact regarding the ruins of Tiwanaku is that Archaeologists claim the design of the city, and many artifacts and large stone blocks found there, showed that the city was once a seaport. Two rows of blocks showing a wharf and docking facilities can still be seen. Now, of course, the ruins are at 12,500 feet high, yet this seaport once looked out into the East Sea (Atlantic Ocean) when the port was at sea level.

Obviously, such an event during the time of man could only have been during the destruction prophesied by Samuel, and again, the Andes are the most recent mountain range to rise. All of these events and circumstances point directly to the fact that in South America that land rose to form the Amazon Basin and along what was once the shore of the East Sea, huge mountains rose “whose height is great,” that are called the Andes today.

Leh’s landing and Nephi’s movement northward

This is the land Lehi landed upon, and Nephi built his city and temple. It is the land of the Nephite Nation and Lamanite Kingdom. It is where the Jaredites lived out their history covering 1500 years, and the land where the Mulekites landed and settled in what was called the land of Zarahemla. This land covered for the most part the distance between Lake Titicaca on the south and the Ecuador/Colombia border to the north, and its width was from the Pacific Ocean (Sea West) to what is today the east side of the Andes Mountains.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Value of the High Mountains in the Land of Promise – Part I

The first thing Lehi’s colony needed when they reached the Land of Promise was shelter for the families and children. Consequently, their first act was to pitch their tents (1 Nephi 18:23). This would have been a day-long effort because of the size and weight of the Bedouin-style tents.

A Bedouin-style tent. They were large containing several rooms inside

Once up, these tents would have provided all the living conditions needed, for their living in tents would have been no different than their living in tents for the past eight years in the wilderness before sailing to the Land of Promise.

Once their shelter and living conditions were accomplished, they needed a constant means of food production. For a short time the food they brought with them and the meat and fish they could hunt and catch would have been sufficient. However, to meet their long-term constant needs, they would have found a fresh water source—probably a river or stream, then set about tilling the ground and planting their seeds “brought from the land of Jerusalem” (1 Nephi 18:24).

After that they did a little exploring of the land (1 Nephi 18:25). At this point it must have been a time of relaxing for Nephi was commanded to make plates and duplicate the writing already engraven on the plates of Lehi (1 Nephi 19:1-2), and then add to them what took place in the Land of Promise (1 Nephi 19:4).

Sometime over the next few years, Lehi died (2 Nephi 4:12), and the persecution against Nephi by his elder brothers and the sons of Ishmael increased until they threatened his life (2 Nephi 5:4) and the Lord warned Nephi to flee into the wilderness with all those who would go with him (2 Nephi 5:5). They took their tents and possessions (2 Nephi 5:7) and seeds (2 Nephi 5:11) and the records and the Liahona (2 Nephi 5:12).

Nephi and those with him—those who trusted in the Lord and willing to follow a chosen leader of the Lord—traveled in the wilderness for “many days” until they came to a land where the Liahona would have guided them.

Nephi fled from his brothers with all those who would go with him

There is some controversy among theorists over how far they traveled—some consider this to be a short distance, as in the models of Mesoamerica and the Great Lakes in North America, and others consider it longer, such as in the Heartland model of what is now the United States.

It should be noted that this distance was to become separated his older brothers and the sons of Ishmael who wanted to kill them, and it seems that in such a situation that Nephi would have led his people a long distance to ensure the protection he would have felt necessary to feel safe and secure.

Whatever land they reached, there they settled down and those with him wanted to call the place the Land of Nephi (2 Nephi 5:8). They then built a city they called the City of Nephi (Alma 23:11), and they built buildings, using wood, iron, copper, steel, gold, and precious ores (2 Nephi 5:15). They also built a temple like the temple of Solomon (2 Nephi 5:16). After a long and noteworthy life, Nephi died about 544 B.C. (Jacob 1:1, 12), probably at the age of 75 to 80 years of age, at the time Jacob would have been about 50.

Over the next one hundred and fifty years, the people of Nephi had waxed strong in the land (Jarom 1:5) and were scattered on much of the face of the Land (Jarom 1:6). Jarom also speaks of “sweeping the Lamanites out of our lands” and “began to fortify our cities” and that they “multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land” (Jarom 1:7-8). They built in wood, in iron, and in copper and brass, and in steel (Jarom 1:8).

Following Jarom’s time, there was his son, Omni, and then his son, Amaron, and about 311 B.C., in which the more wicked part of the Nephites had been destroyed by 279 BC. The record then went to his brother, Chemish, who passed the record on to his son, Abinadom, who passed it on to his son, Amaleki.

Now Amaleki was the grandson of Chemish, or the second generation, making the year somewhere around 200 BC. when Amaleki records Mosiah being “warned of the Lord to flee out of the land of Nephi” (Omni 1:12) with as many as would “hearken unto the voice of the Lord” and go with him. They were “led by the power of his arm, through the wilderness, until they came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla” (Omni 1:13).

Thus, in the nearly 400 years between 570 B.C. and about 200 BC., the Nephites lived, waxed strong, and spread across the face of the land in the Land of Nephi.

The Nephites built cities, towns and villages

They built many cities, mined gold and silver, and worked in wood, iron, steel, and precious ores in their constructions. There were numerous cities and villages (Alma 23:14) in the Land of Nephi, as well as separate lands referred to as the Land of Ishmael, so named after the sons of Ishmael (Alma 17:19), and the Land of Middoni (Alma 20:2), the Land of Jerusalem (Alma 21:1) which was named after Jerusalem in Palestine, the Land of Mormon (Alma 21:1), the Land of Shilom (Alma 23:12), the Land of Shemlon (Alma 23:12), the Land of Amulon, the Land of Helam (Alma 24:1), and the Land of Midian (Alma 24:5).

There was also a city of Nephi (Alma 23:11), the city of Jerusalem (Alma 21:2), the city of Lemuel, and the city of Shimnilom (Alma 23:12), and there was a village named Ani-Anti (Alma 21:11), which was somewhere between the city of Jerusalem and the Land of Middoni (Alma 21:12). In addition, there were “regions round about” the Land of Middoni (Alma 21:13).

It is not known if there were other cities and lands within the Land of Nephi, for only these are mentioned in the record; however, as the expansion of the Nephites through the land suggests further settlements, there no doubt were many other cities, towns and villages built.

The point is, the Land of Nephi was a large area, with separate lands and numerous cities within its borders. It would appear from the record that the Land of Nephi encompassed many other lands, and even kingdoms, for the Land of Ishmael was a separate kingdom under king Lamoni, and the Land of Middoni under king Antiomno, yet all were in the Land of Nephi where Lamoni’s unnamed father “was king over all the land” (Alma 20:8).

When the mountains rose up in 33 AD., “whose height is great” as prophesied by Samuel the Lamanite forty years earlier), they came up along the east coast of the Land of Promise, pushing the east sea further to the east, and bringing a solid wall of mountains to block the eastern edge of the Land of Promise. These mountains, “whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23), were the Andes, a range with more than 200 mountains over 18,000 feet above sea level, the tallest mountains in the entire Western Hemisphere.

The Andes Mountains is the natural attraction that stretches for over 4,660 miles on a north south plane of the west coastal area of South America

The Andes Mountains are the mountainous spine which dramatically dissects western South America in two from north to south. Everything about South America is directly related to the existence of the Andes—not only the dramatically different landscapes but also the indigenous cultures and their histories, their diverging cuisines, the immensely diverse wilderness and the incredible wildlife, among countless other aspects.

It is a collection of numerous mountain chains, of which the great majority of the chains are volcanic, which join together in what are called orographic knots. These are the high-altitude plateaus, the kind that have created the Bolivian Altiplano, that have allowed for the establishment of human settlements.

It should be noted that the Andes contain enormous metal deposits. The largest gold mine in the world is Peru’s Yanacocha, and both Chile and Peru combine to produce almost half of the world’s mined copper. Latest estimates project that yet-to-be discovered copper deposits in the Andes could total a massive 750 million metric tons, along with 13,000 tons of gold, 250,000 tons of silver and 20 million tons of molybdenum, which is a mineral used to harden steel. Indeed this area satisfies the scriptural record of the Land of Promise having plenty of gold, silver, and copper, as well as sufficient iron and other ores.

Regarding the extreme value of the Andes Mountains as well as the Land of Promise, Nephi said, “we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper” (1 Nephi 18:25), and as Jacob said, “gold, and for silver, and for all manner of precious ores, in the which this land, which is a land of promise unto you and to your seed, doth abound most plentifully” (Jacob 2:12), and as Helaman wrote: “there was all manner of gold in both these lands, and of silver, and of precious ore of every kind” (Helaman 6:11); and as Ether said, “all manner of ore, and they did make gold, and silver, and iron, and brass, and all manner of metals; and they did dig it out of the earth; wherefore they did cast up mighty heaps of earth to get ore, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of copper. And they did work all manner of fine work” (Ether 10:23).

Saturday, August 15, 2020

The Disappearance of the Sea East and Rise of the Mountains

It is of interest that the East Sea, Sea East, East Seashore are mentioned 19 times in the Book of Mormon before the crucifixion, but not once after the destruction and after “the face of the whole earth became deformed (3 Nephi 8:17). At that time, within a three hour period, mountains rose out of valleys. As Samuel the Lamanite said it, “there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23)

Mountains rose to great heights and could be seen from great distances

“The mountains mentioned above can be seen from great distances, several mountain peaks from one place” (“About other Cordillera Blanca, the White Mountain Range,” Cordillera Blanca, Go2dAndes Adventure Travel, December 2020).

The Andes are very narrow in most places and the average width is 124 miles. Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Andes, is 22,841 feet, and many of the peaks are active volcanoes. The mountain range is part of seven countries: Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, Colombia, and Venezuela. The mountain form a massive barrier between the eastern Pacific Ocean and the rest of the continent of South America. This barrier impacts the climate of South America, with the northern part of the Andes typically rainy and warm. The west side of the central Andes is extremely dry and includes the Atacama Desert in northern Chile; the eastern portion of the central Andes is much wetter. In the south, the western side of the Andes tends to be wet, while the eastern plains are in rain shadow and tend to be very dry. Many of the peaks in the Andes receive heavy snowfall and contain glaciers.

Mountains, whose height is great

For tall mountains whose height is great, the Andes Mountains of South America is the only mountain range in the Western Hemisphere that meets this description. The Andes run for 4,660 miles, with 220 mountains over 18,000 feet. Obviously, it was a range that could be seen throughout an area the size of the Land of Promise. That is, such a mountain range meets the requirements of Samuel the Lamanite’s description.

Not only were the Andes a mountain range “whose height is great,” but also the range covered such a large area, it meets Samuel the Lamanite’s specific message as to why the mountains fell, and others rose out of valleys to become tall mountains, and that 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).

Now for such an event to meet that rquirement, i.e., “upon all the face of the land,” and “that there should be no cause for unbelief,” because all witnessed the events Samuel described, these mountains could not be in some corner of the land where only a small percentage of the Nephites saw the event.

Obviously, the Andes Mountains were tall enough and covered such a large area, that all the Nephites would see the rising of these mountains. No other mountain range could qualify to accomplish such an important view to all the people.

Mountains in Guatemala Mesoamerica

In comparison, Mesoamerica is quite different. As an example, Guatemala has 70 miles of mountains with the highest peak at 3,688-feet, and in southern Mexico (Sierra Madre Occidental the elevation of 10,863 feet; with the Volcan Tajkumulco peak in San Marcos in western Guatemala at 13,786 feet. Sierra Madre Mountains is 5,850 feet.

Obviously, these mountains and their height and lack of continued mountains would not match the scriptural account as given above; And the Heartland and Great Lakes areas of North America simply do not have mountain ranges at all unless one extends the land areas—which the theorists do not—all the way to the east coast where low mountains run north and south with Mount Mitchell in North Carolina the tallest at 6,684 feet.

Regarding the land itself, the high elevations in the Dry Andes cause all precipitation to fall as snow. Cold powder snow is blown from the mountain summits. Glacierets in the Desert Andes may be found only on the leeward side of summits, in more or less well-pronounced cirques, which are half-open steep-sided hollows at the head of a valley or on a mountainside, formed by glacial erosion—which eroded some of the cirques during the "Ice Age".” In the Desert Andes, precipitation is accompanied during local storms by a great deal of lightning. By comparison, to the south in the Chilean Central Valley and in Patagonia lightning is almost unknown. The transient snowline may, therefore, differ from one mountain to another.

Large glaciers of the Central Andes are found at the heads of high valleys. Glaciers are most commonly oriented to the southeast and their elevation increases from west to east.Thus, the concept of a snowline as a function of elevation, or the lower limit of glacierization, cannot be applied in the Dry Andes. Only a glaciation level may be defined (elevation of the lowest summits that have permanent snow patches), and even this concept must be handled with care, given the greater importance of local topography. For instance, the young Volcán Maipo at 17,355 feet, has only a few permanent snow patches in gullies, although the glaciation level is about 14,763 feet in this area.


Eastern side of the Andes Mountain (Top) Snow covered heights, (Bottom) the lower mountains with Cardon cactus scattered about

The mountains on the eastern side of the Andes with giant Cardon cactus has eroded clay soil. This soil is young clastic wealdy consolidated and unconsolidated sediments made up of sands, sandstones, clays, clay-shales, gravels, and conglomerates.

In Peru, the Nevado Kuajadajanka in the Cordillera Raura of the Andes, rises to 17,800 feet. The source of the Amazon River lies on the east side of the Cordillera Raura, as determined by the Royal Geographical Society in 1950: the tiny glacial lake Laguna Niñococha feeds Rio Lauricocha, then Rio Marañon, then the Amazon.

On the east side of the Andes the Peruvian Amazonia is the area of the Amazon rainforest included within the country of Peru, from east of the Andes to the borders with Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Bolivia. This region comprises 60% of the country of Peru and is marked by a large degree of biodiversity. Peru has the second-largest portion of the Amazon rainforest after the Brazilian Amazon. 

This is an area where once the Atlantic Ocean flowed, and as Darwin, after discovering a bed of fossil seashells at 12,000 feet in the Andes Mountains, put it: “I cannot express the delight which I felt at such a famous winding up of all my geology in South America. I literally could hardly sleep at nights for thinking over my day’s work.” He also found a forest of petrified pine trees surrounded by marine rock deposits, convincing him that these trees had once stood beside the Atlantic, 700 miles away, of which he wrote: “Since leaving England I have never made so successful a journey” (Toby Green, “Saddled with Darwin,” Peaks of the Chilean Andes, Faber Finds, 2009). 

Dense rainforest in eastern Peru, where once the Atlantic Ocean reached and its waves washed up on the shores at the base of the distant east coast of Peru

Most Peruvian territory is covered by dense forests on the east side of the Andes, yet only 5% of Peruvians live in this area. Much of the Peruvian territory is covered by the Amazon rainforest, more than in any other country, which is traditionally divided into two distinct ecoregions: 

1. The lowland jungle, also known as the Amazonian rainforest or Amazon basin, is 2.5 million square miles. It is the largest tropical forest on Earth (about the size of the 48 contiguous United States) with the highest density of plant and animal species anywhere on Earth. It also contains the largest number of freshwater fish species in the world, and represents over half of the world’s remaining rainforest. Its moist, tropical vegetation stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Andes Mountains in the west, and is the largest ecoregion of Peru, standing between 265 and 3,280 feet above sea level.

The lowland jungle of the Amazon rainforest. Note how much of the area is underwater or surface water and the lily pads floating on it

It has very warm weather with an average temperature of 82°F, high relative humidity (over 75%) and yearly rainfall of approximately 100 inches (by comparison, the annual rainfall of Utah is from less than 5 inches in portions of the Great Salt Lake Desert to more than 20 inches in some portions of the Wasatch Mountains). Because of high temperatures and high rainfall, its soils are poor with few nutrients, and very heterogeneous, as almost all have river origins.

2. The highland jungle (Selva Alta) is also called Rupa Rupa region, the Andean high jungle, ceja de selva, the latter being the eastern Andean montane of the Central Andean highlands and coast. This ecoregion forest extends into the eastern foothills of the Andes, between 3,280 and 12,467 feet above sea level. This region was well connected to events happening in the Central Andes during the Initial Period of development in the type if societies that developed in the Peruvian region with relationship to the Central Andean coast and highlands. This area developed in settlement long before the Inca. 

The eastern slopes of the Andes are home to a great variety of fauna and flora because of the different altitudes and climates within the region. Temperatures are warm in the lowlands and cooler in higher altitudes. There are many endemic fauna in the western Amazon because of the isolation caused by the rugged terrain of the area (Javier Pulgar Vidal, Las ocho regiones naturales del Perú, Boletín del Museo de historia natural, vol.17, Lima, 1941, pp145-161). 

These are the mountains that came up, whose height is great, that once was level ground along the east coast of the island that became the continent of South America at the time of the crucifixion. It also shows that the mountains came up, pushing back the East Sea into its present position, leaving the huge Amazon Basin barely above sea level over a two million square mile range.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Stone Walls and Fortresses

Alma described several building techniques that the Nephites used in defending their country, climaxing his discussion with: “And also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land” (Alma 48:8).

Alma makes it clear that stone was used extensively to build defensive walls of stone around”

1. The encamped army units;

2. The cities;

3. Along the borders of the lands.’

It would appear from this that Moroni and the Nephites considered stone their building material of choice. They also used wood to build their houses since such buildings, even if out of stone, required wood for steps, stairways, roof and ceiling beams, window and door frames, as well as the door, and in some cases the floor; however, because of the time involved and lack of tools for shaping and trimming, wood was limited for the most part to timbers, i.e., the round natural tree stem, often seen in the ceiling and roof beams—often covered with thin stone. Wood is sometimes used in lintels, especially where larger stones are not available, or are beyond the ability of the work to lift into place.

Studs overlaying a cement wall

Where studs were cut and used, stone was often used over it. Wood was also useful when burned and the ashes used to increase the workability and resistance of stone. It should also be kept in mind that wood houses in earthquake country have a tendency for destruction, whereas stone walls, especially layered like Sacsayhuman, have a great ability to withstand earthquakes. In fact, the larger the stones, the better, and stone with wood reinforcing was very common anciently in seismic-prone areas.

In addition, larger stones work better in such construction than small ones, and where such stone is available, like in a quarry, larger stones are far more desirable. In addition, larger stone is used within the structure as bearing walls, while lesser stones along with wood framing are used in non-bearing walls. Of course, even in stone houses, the upper floors are often built with wood walls laced with stone fill, in order for the lower stone walls to carry the weight.

The point is, when it speaks of building with wood in the scriptural record, it should be understood that this wood was used along with stone. In fact, when the Nephites moved into the Land Northward and found there was no timber in the land (Helaman 3:5) they learned to make cement.

Noah Webster in his 1828 dictionary defines cement as: “Any glutinous (sticky) or other substance capable of uniting bodies in close cohesion, as mortar, glue, solder, etc. In building, cement denotes a stronger kind of mortar than that which is ordinarily used.”

Today, Hebrew linguists say cement means: “Any substance used for making bodies adhere to each other, any mortar, glue, etc.”

Mortar was used to cover uncut or dressed stone, forming a type of plaster covering

The Bible uses the word cement only once, and according to Hebrew linguists, the word cement is really “mortar,” a word found 16 ties in the Bible, such as: Cement which is also implied by the use of other words, such as “lute,” which is defined as “a cement of clay or other tenacious infusible substance for sealing joints in apparatus or the mouth of vessels or tubes, or for coating the bodies of retorts when exposed to heat.”

As stated: “To overlay or coat with cement; a type of calcined mixture of clay and lime for making mortar which will harden.”

Obviously the cement of the Bible and Book of Mormon, as mortar, was not freestanding any more than it is today. When it dries, it is a coating for some other object, such as wood or rock. Consequently, the use of “cement” in the Land Northward was spread over rock (since there was no timber in the land) until it dried and hardened—however, it was not free-standing, and alone was of little value in any type of construction and would have required framing before-hand to support the cement as a coating (mortar). Usually this is wood, but since there was no timber in the land, the Nephites would have used rock for fill or stone.

Thus when Moroni took over as chief captain and general of the Nephite armies, he “altered the management of affairs among the Nephites, insomuch that the Lamanites were disappointed in their places of retreat and they could not come upon them” (Alma 49:11). In this, Moroni was a military genius, equipping his soldiers with armor padding to protect them from battle and strengthening the Nephite forts and cities throughout the land. Here we find that Moroni “built walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands…all round about the land” (Alma 48:8).

The use of stone was common among the Nephites, they were well aware of how to use it for construction, as it is clearly shown in their building walls of stone around their cities and around their land. Such an endeavor would have required Moroni to know how to use stone in building, and men knowledgeable in setting stone for the strength needed for such defensive walls.

In fact, Moroni was such a great man, that Mormon paid him the greatest tribute when he said of Moroni: “If all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men” (Alma 48:17), and named his own son after the military genius.

Moroni knew and understood the importance of building both permanent and temporary structures, for when he needed to protect his army for a brief time or a single battle, he cast up mounds of dirt around his men (Alma 48:8), but when he was fortifying the cities and the land, he built with stone for a more permanent defense.

The walls around cities

There are numerous walls throughout Peru that have been built around cities and around the land. One of the cities where a great wall was built that ringed the entire city complex of more than 400 buildings, is found in Kuélap in the north of the Land Southward, with a 2000-feet long and 360-feet wide, and 62-feet high stone wall.

Another high wall is one built around Wat’a (Huánuco), an ancient city of Cusco dating back to about 1000 BC, in the little community of Bella Flores north of Singa. Wat'a, which is situated at a height of about 12,759 feet on top of a mountain which is bordered by the little rivers of Tawlli (Taulli) and Aqu (Aco).

When the Lamanites were threatening to overrun the entire Land Southward and were pushing the Nephites back toward the north countries, Moronihah, Moroni’s son who was in charge of the armies, built a wall across the land, beginning at the Sea West, near the Santa River and moving inland. “And there they did fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea, even unto the east; it being a day's journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country” (Helaman 4:7). This wall, not discovered until 1932 by Shippee and Johnson in their aerial photography flight over Peru, was 12 to 15 feet thick and as high as 20 feet, and dates to the Chavin period around 200 B.C.

Evidently, this wall is part of the defense that Moronihah built that helped stop the northward movement of the Lamanites. As Mormon wrote: “Moronihah did succeed with his armies in obtaining many parts of the land; yea, they regained many cities which had fallen into the hands of the Lamanites” (Helaman 4:9).

In addition: “Moroni had fortified, or had built forts of security, for every city in all the land round about” (Alma 49:13), and “He also placed armies on the south, in the borders of their possessions, and caused them to erect fortifications that they might secure their armies and their people from the hands of their enemies…fortifying the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites” (Alma 50:10).

Also in addition, the Land of Promise was ringed with forts and fortresses meant to ensure the safety of the Nephites. In Alma five references are made about forts, and their places of security. As an example, Mormon wrote: “Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort (Alma 48:8); and “thus were the Nephites prepared to destroy all such as should attempt to climb up to enter the fort by any other way, by casting over stones and arrows at them” (Alma 49:19). The practice of erecting small forts, or outposts, is also mentioned (Alma 48:13). In the Amazonia of Peru, an ancient city was recently discovered by explorers that had “high walls” made of perfectly cut stone, thought to be the ancient city of Paititi.