Friday, December 4, 2020

Land of Volcanoes and Earthquakes – Part II

Continued from the previous post.

In addition, despite the earliness of the date, there is sufficient detailed information to estimate the optical depth and mass of this remarkable stratospheric dust cloud. The importance of this cloud resides in the fact that its mass and its climatic consequences appear to exceed those of any other volcanic cloud observed during the past three millennia (R. B. Stothers, “Mystery Cloud of 536 AD,” Nature, Vol.307, 1984, pp344-345; also; The Great Tambora eruption in 1815 and its aftermath,” Vol.224, 1984, pp1191-1198).

 “And it came to pass that there was thick darkness upon all the face of the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof who had not fallen could feel the vapor—meaning smoke, fumes, a gaseous phase of matter—of darkness” (3 Nephi 8:20).

As Mormon abridging Nephi’s writing wrote:,

• “And it came to pass that it did last for the space of three days that there was no light seen; and there was great mourning and howling and weeping among all the people continually; yea, great were the groanings of the people, because of the darkness and the great destruction which had come upon them (3 Nephi 8:23).

• “And there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceedingly dry wood, so that there could not be any light at all (3 Nephi 8:21).

• And there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land (3 Nephi 8:22).

Obviously, the vapor mentioned and the darkness state, would follow volcanic eruption.

The location of most of the world’s volcanoes—are far more volcanoes in Andean South America than Mesoamerica with none (Green Circle) in the Heartland and the Great Lakes models


There are about 1500 potentially active volcanoes worldwide. 159 of these are in the Andes of South America, more than in any other location. It was a series of volcanic eruptions from several earthquakes that “Shook the entire earth,” and a series of volcanoes that produced the type of vapor darkness described. This alone should eliminate the Hartland and Great Lakes models.

In addition, every now and again Earth experiences tremendous explosive volcanic eruptions, considerably bigger than the largest witnessed in historic times. Those yielding more than 450 km3 of magma have been called super-eruptions (Stephen Self, ”The effects and consequences of very large explosive volcanic eruptions, Mathematical, Physical, and Engineering sciences, Volcano Dynamics Group, Department of Earth Sciences, The Open University, Walton Hall

The Royal Society publishing, 28 June 2006).

As for these events and depending on where the volcano is located, the effects will be felt globally or at least by a whole hemisphere. It should be kept in mind that there was no one else in the Western Hemisphere in 34 AD other than the Nephites.

During the continental uplift in South America, the Sea East disappeared, but the land remained much the same in size because of the rise of the Andes cutting off the east of the continent from the western Andean shelf as the Sea East had done previously. In addition, the mountains that rose “whose height is great” is the second highest mountain range in the world, and the highest in the Western Hemisphere, with over 100 peaks more than 18,000 feet in height.

Of the 1500 volcanoes in the world, most (Red Areas) are in the Pacific Rim, called the Ring of Fire


The destruction already discussed that appears in 3 Nephi 8 and 9 was the result of two distinct actions: 1) Earthquakes, and 2) Volcanic eruptions. It should be noted that in the time of the Book of Mormon they had few words to escribe events. As an example: the term “tempest” meaning very high level winds such as a “hurricane” for winds that rose to a level beyond anything previously seen in the land is a “violent windy storm,” or severe weather and more severe than had previously been known in all the land; they used the word “whirlwind,” that we would call a tornado—a large and very powerful whirlwind that can pick up cars and houses and whirl them up into the atmosphere and in Book of Mormon times, picked up people and whisked the away, never to be seen again.

Instead of earthquake, they used the term “Shook the entire earth,” which in and of itself is what an earthquake is. Instead of “hurricane” they used the term “tempest” and so severe that their likes had never before been seen in the land: “It was on the fourth day of the month, there arose a great storm, such an one as never had been known in all the land” (3 Nephi 8:5, emphasis added). It was not that a storm had never been seen before, but one so severe and devastating as the one that appeared at the time of the crucifixion had never before been seen, which is easy to see from the devastation it caused during its three hour length. That is, this storm was so dreadful, it surpassed any storm that had ever been known in the land in the previous 600 years of Nephite occupation.

A tempest storm more severe than any before seen in the land


Consequently, this was not just a storm, even as bad as it was, but it was also an earthquake—an earthquake that lasted for three hours. For those who have never been in an earthquake, you might want to know that an earthquake, even an extremely severe one, generally lasts under a minute, and sometimes as much as two to three minutes. The world’s worst earthquake recorded on a seismograph lasted (called duration) between 8.3 and 10 minutes—the Sumatra earthquake that hit on December 26, 2004, with a 9.2 magnitude, and the longest shaking ever recorded lasted 10 minutes, while the California earthquake in 1994 that ruptured 12 miles along the fault lasted 15 seconds.

The energy released by this quake was equal to a 100 gigaton bomb, and is reported that no point on earth remained undisturbed during it (one kiloton is equivalent to 1,000 tons of TNT, 1000 kilotons equals one megaton, and 1000 megatons equals one gigaton. By way of comparison, the Hiroshima bomb of 1945 dropped on Japan was 13-18 kilotons, or 13-18,000 tons of TNT. A one gigaton explosions, like the 10-minute earthquake in Sumatra, would be equivalent to about 16,666 times the energy power of the Hironshima bomb.

For anyone to suggest that the destruction in 3 Nephi was merely cosmetic and did little actual damage simply does not understand the makeup of weather, earthquakes, volcanoes and the wordage of Samuel as he describes the destruction both above and beneath the earth: “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 (Helaman 14:21).

As an example, what kind of energy would be required for this destruction: “The face of the whole earth became deformed…and behold, the rocks were rent in twain; they were broken up upon the face of the whole earth, insomuch that they were found in broken fragments, and in seams and in cracks, upon all the face of the land” (3 Nephi 8:17-18). Because of the quaking of the whole earth, the “whole face of the land was changed” (3 Nephi 8:12), and the whole earth was shaken “as if it was about to divided asunder” (3 Nephi 8:6). In fact, when solid rock, both above the earth and beneath it are split in twain and broken ujp, one might consider Samuel’s words as significant: “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” (Helaman 14:21).

It should be noted that at the time that the isthmus rose, connecting South America to Central America, land in other areas of South America were also rising. That is as the continent came up out of the water, the Amazon Basin, the last to rise, was the lowest land area and often is flooded for thousands of square miles for six months of the year even today.

Fold mountains are created where two of Earth’s tectonic plates are pushed together


At this time, several areas along this 4500 miles saw the earth’s crust fold and deform by lateral compression to form mountain ranges in a process called orogeny, which is the formation or erection of mountains (mountain building)—causing the Peru Orogeny and the Puna-Sierras-Pampaenas Orogeny. As the North Andes Plate, the Altiplano Plate, and the Nazca Plate interacted with, and subducted beneath, the South American Plate and the Caribbean Plate in a twisted convulsion that brought about this severe change in crustal folding and faulting. This caused the rise of the Andes that shot upward dramatically in an intense upward displacement and compressional processes, but brought the entire Amazon Basin, a 2.9 million square mile area, which is four-and-a-half times larger than Alaska, eleven times larger than Texas,  twelve times larger than France, eighteen times larger than California, and about three-fourths the size of all Europe (fourteen countries), and roughly about the size of Australia.

This huge Basin area is still so little above the sea, that much of it is flooded more than six months out of the year, with different areas being inundated at different times because of the uneven distribution of the seasonal rainfall. In fact, Increased rainfall translates into increase discharge of the rivers, and because the Amazon Basin is mostly flat and there is more water than the waterways can contain, the water spills outside the riverbanks and into the low-lying floodplains. Because the Basin is normally saturated with surface or near-surface water, the overflows raise the water in the Basin as much as 49-feet (by comparison, the greatest flood along the Mississippi, that inundated millions of acres along a path 50-miles wide and 100 miles long in 1926 and again in 1937, displacing millions of people, and $500 million in property losses, resulted from a rise of only 19.68 feet of the river.

What happened in Andean Peru shows that such described events actually did happen. Geologists not only have written about these events, but have designed maps of the entire continent showing the effects of such an earth-shattering event as the changing of the entire face of the earth in South America. Not only did mountains collapse and others rise “to a height which is great,” but that an entire continent came up out of the sea, as it tipped further eastward, lifting the western coastal shelf upward and bringing up the Andes mountains along a track about 4,500 miles long, from Teirra del Fuego to the Colombian border with Panama—dragging the Isthmus of Panama up out of the sea as well.

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