Unbeknownst to most Book of Mormon geography enthusiasts is the field of Geology and its relevance for understanding the geography of the Book of Mormon. The traditional approach at the Y has been to seek anthropological (human based) commonalities.
The reason for this (in part) no doubt was because the foremost investigators in the field of Book of Mormon Geography were anthropologists John Sorenson and John Clark. The flaw of course in this approach is the fact that Nephite culture was erased.
They swore in their wrath that, if it were possible, they would destroy our records and us, and also all the traditions of our fathers. (Enos 1:14)
And behold, the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more; and great has been their fall; yea, great and marvelous is the destruction of my people, the Nephites. (Mormon 8:7.)
16 For those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him power, that he may whisper concerning them, even as it were out of the ground; and their speech shall whisper out of the dust.
17 For thus saith the Lord God: They shall write the things which shall be done among them, and they shall be written and sealed up in a book, and those who have dwindled in unbelief shall not have them, for they seek to destroy the things of God.
18 Wherefore, as those who have been destroyed have been destroyed speedily; and the multitude of their terrible ones shall be as chaff that passeth away — yea, thus saith the Lord God: It shall be at an instant, suddenly — (2 Nephi 26)
10 And these are the words: Behold, I perceive that this very people, the Nephites, according to the spirit of revelation which is in me, in four hundred years from the time that Jesus Christ shall manifest himself unto them, shall dwindle in unbelief.
11 Yea, and then shall they see wars and pestilences, yea, famines and bloodshed, even until the people of Nephi shall become extinct—
12 Yea, and this because they shall dwindle in unbelief and fall into the works of darkness, and lasciviousness, and all manner of iniquities; yea, I say unto you, that because they shall sin against so great light and knowledge, yea, I say unto you, that from that day, even the fourth generation shall not all pass away before this great iniquity shall come.
13 And when that great day cometh, behold, the time very soon cometh that those who are now, or the seed of those who are now numbered among the people of Nephi, shall no more be numbered among the people of Nephi.
14 But whosoever remaineth, and is not destroyed in that great and dreadful day, shall be numbered among the Lamanites, and shall become like unto them, all, save it be a few who shall be called the disciples of the Lord; and them shall the Lamanites pursue even until they shall become extinct. And now, because of iniquity, this prophecy shall be fulfilled. (Alma 45:10-14)
It is important to concede the fact that those who became Lamanites “by choice” were aware of Nephi’s prophecies that:
- Nephites would become corrupt.
- Nephites would be destroyed.
- Nephite records would come forth to the Gentiles.
Wherefore, each war instigated by the Lamanites was verily a “war of extermination” which entailed erasing all traces of Nephite religion and culture including temples, synagogues, calendars, places of worship, etc.
Cultures are not tied to the land.
People migrate to other lands for a number of reasons including droughts, enemies, disease, or dangerous animals. Because cultures are often mobile, such a moving target would be the least affective means for identifying Book of Mormon lands.
It’s unfortunate (or fortuitous) that neither John Sorenson nor John Clark were geographers (or geologists).
The Importance of Geology
Geology is the science that deals with the dynamics and physical history of the earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the physical, chemical, and biological changes that the earth has undergone or is undergoing. (Random House Dictionary)
The geography of the Book of Mormon reflects a number of very unique geological features:
1. Narrow Neck
This geological phenomenon is very unique; perhaps more unique than ever imagined. The reason for its geological neglect is two fold: a. Modelers misconstrued its size to be 1.5 days wide. b. No geologist has addressed its nature.
- Small (from eye level)
- Narrow (from eye level)
- Dockable sea on the west. (Where Hagoth built and docked his “exceedingly large ships.”)
- Natural harbor. (Safe from winds, waves and storms.)
- The sea on the west must be unbounded on the north. (Hagoth sailed “north.”)
- Shallow sea on the east. (Sea that divides the land.)
- Close to trees of a size suitable for building exceedingly large ships.
- Close to trees of a wood suitable for building exceedingly large ships.
These characteristics rule out most models. The so-called “Heartland Model” lacks the two seas; Mesoamerican models lack a dockable west coast. The Western New York Model is the only model that meets all seven characteristics. This unique geological feature was the result of a terminal glacial moraine.
2. Narrow Pass
Adjacent to the Narrow Neck was a likewise narrow PASS.
- “Pass” is defined in the Book of Mormon as a “passage” through high walls. (Dirt wall fortifications had a single entrance called “pass.”)
- What geological feature created high walls by the Narrow Neck?
- What created a gap or pass in this geological feature?
These unique features occur in western New York as an “escarpment” – the Onondaga Escarpment. Breaks in the escarpment are caused by streams. The escarpment today has become diminished due to rocks being removed for constructing roads and buildings.
3. Sea that Divides the Land
The expression “sea that divides the land” is best understood as a shallow inland body of water.
- Mormon used the word “sea” to describe all large bodies of water because he never saw a salt water ocean. (The “Sea of Galilee” is a fresh water “sea” or lake. The Bible identifies salt water seas as “salt seas.”)
- No shipping on it.
- There were distinct boundaries.
- It was shallow.
- It never dried up.
- As it evaporated it shrunk leaving “plains” along the north and south.
These characteristics are found in western New York with ancient Lake Tonawanda which was shallow because it was on a plain called Tonawanda Plain. It had boundaries with a terminal glacial moraine (Narrow Neck) on the west, the Onondaga Escarpment on the south which was the wall that the Narrow Pass passed through, and the Niagara Escarpment on the north which was pushed up at the coming of Christ creating what is now known as Niagara Falls.
4. The land changed at the coming of Christ.
The most notable geological feature described in the Holy Book of Mormon is the prophesied “splitting of the rocks” both above the ground and below the ground at the coming of Christ.
- Was prophesied of.
- Was to remain as a testament for all time.
- Was to be seen by the whole world.
- Rocks split below the earth.
- Rocks split above the earth.
- The presence of God left a discernable imprint.
This was fulfilled in western New York and is called Niagara Falls, the “Honeymoon Capital of the World.” Pictures of the dried-up Niagara Falls show clearly how the rocks were split both above and below, along the Niagara Escarpment.
[He who dates the falls to the coming of Christ will go down in history.]
The spiritual component, though not geological, is relevant as the rocks were bathed in the resurrected glory of Jesus Christ; and the heavens opened pouring forth its glory; and angels descended in their glory in large number; and the all piercing voice of God was sounded.
The residue of this event is on par with the residue at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem!
5. Cement houses were only made in the Jaredite Land Northward.
Cement structures were only built in the Jaredite Land Northward.
- Building materials were only in the Jaredite Land Northward.
- Cement structures were a temporary solution.
- Were all destroyed at the coming of Jesus.
- The stone box in which the plates of gold were found was made with cement.
Mesotheorists have played the “cement card” like some trump card that trumps all other evidences in favor of a Mesoamerican setting and its lack against the true geography in western New York. This so-called single trump card approach is as weak as their previous weather card that failed once scrutinized.
Western New York, north of Buffalo (Bountiful and the Narrow Neck), contains a huge glacial field of “cobblestones” that provided the “bricks” for building structures and today contains the largest concentration of cobblestone homes in North America.
They do not occur south of Buffalo and is the reason they did not build structures of cement in the Land Southward. Mesoamerica (as well as all models) does not have such a unique geological difference between the Jaredite Land Northward and the Land Southward. They contain cement houses in their Land Southward.
All such structures were destroyed at the coming of Christ and they rebuilt with wood, which wooden structures were destroyed by fire before the final battle. Western New York is one of the largest cement producers in America and the naturally occurring Seneca Oil springs provided an unlimited supply of fuel for its production.
The final evidence of cement use in western New York is of course the box that contained the gold plates; it was made of cement.
The location of this unique geological feature called plains is crucial to understanding the terrain.
- Were between cities.
- Were along two seas.
Mesotheorists are hard pressed to identify plains along either the Sea East or the north and south sides of the Sea that Divides the Land (if they have one), and for the distances described.
Because all modelers wrongly place the City Bountiful along the Sea East next to the City of Mulek, instead of the Sea West, they fail to identify the 1.5 day wide plain between them. A 50 mile plain in Mesoamerica, Baja, Malaysia, etc. is impossible to find.
In the correct geography of western New York of course such a plain can be both identified and explained. As ancient Lake Tonawanda (Sea that Divides the Land) “receded from off the land” it left flat plains for it was on a plain – Tonawanda Plain!
Another plain (Agosh) was spoken of on the north side of the Sea that Divides the Land and one along the Sea East near the City of Nephihah. The Sea East in western New York is the Genesee River/Gorge which has fertile plains that parallel it and are actively farmed.
The main shipping was in the Jaredite Land Northward. The record says it was extensive due to a lack of timber there.
- Portable waterways.
- Safe harbors.
The logistics for operating a shipping industry for the importation of timber has been ignored. Their ships were very large, large enough to carry timber suitable for constructing houses, temples, synagogues and sanctuaries, i.e. not cactus and palm trees.
The land was covered with “large bodies of water and many rivers” (Helaman 3:4) which were suitable for shipping. The Jaredite Land Northward in Mesoamerican models (or Baja, Malaysia, etc.) are not suited for such shipping.
The true geography of the Western New York Model contains several unique geological features conducive to a mass shipping industry. For starters, the Sea that Divides the Land is elevated and the land descends from it toward the north.
That means all rivers run north and originate with the Sea that Divides the Land and descend down into the Sea North (Lake Ontario). Shipping was indeed a suitable means for bringing timber far within the Jaredite Land Northward on a number of deep, slow moving rivers that have many natural harbors.
Equally important, though not necessarily geology related are the lands where they went for the timber. If the entire Land Northward was barren, i.e. all Book of Mormon lands, to which lands did they go?
Mesoamerican models are bounded by vast oceans and have no adjacent lands to go, so fail. This fact proves there were lands beyond the Jaredite Land Northward that was bounded by FOUR SEAS.
The Western New York Model correctly has a. FOUR SEAS surrounding the Jaredite Land Northward, b. Lands beyond the Sea East (Genesee River/Gorge) and Sea West (Niagara River/Gorge).
8. Lamanite Line of Possession.
This geological feature is ignored by most modelers and a paradox for others.
- It divides the land.
- Flows east and west.
When Nephi fled from his kin, he went north “many days into the wilderness.” Later we see that he went beyond some natural dividing line and established what his followers, i.e. “Nephites” would refer to as their “Land of First Inheritance,” not to be confused with Lehi’s or Jared’s.
This geological feature was indisputable and respected by both Nephites and Lamanites, i.e. it was not disputable. What is paradoxical is the fact that the River Sidon and the several wildernesses are orientated north to south, so what bisected the ENTIRE land from the Sea East to the Sea West?
The true geography of western New York has the answer. There is a singular east running west river south of the head of the River Sidon (Manti), in a wilderness (Southern Wilderness) that indeed runs from the Sea East (Genesee River/Gorge) to the Sea West (Lake Erie) – Cattaraugus River/Gorge, and is saturated with ancient fortifications and burial mounds.
9. Wood for building cities.
Aside from having the right climatge, the geology must be suitable for large, slow growth, hardwood trees. There is a reason the people did not build large wooden cities in Mesoamerica and Baja. They don’t reflect the type of wooden cities described in the Book of Mormon because they don’t have either a suitable climate or geology.
10. Dirt mounds/forts.
All throughout the Book of Mormon dirt walled cities and “places of refuge” were contructed. There is no mention of ground clearing. They were able to immediately “throw up dirt” 10-20 feet high so that “their errors could not hit them.”
The jungle ridden grounds of Mesoamerica and the rock infested lands of Baja don’t resemble the geology thus described. Western New York contains hundreds of these ancient fortifications and Mesoamerica, Baja, Malaysia etc. contain not one.
Any one of these geological features can confirm true Book of Mormon lands. Taken together however, they confirm conclusively.