Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Water Fight on the River - Round Thirteen

13. Question. Did the Lands of Nephi and Zarahemla share similar topography? See the article "Asking the Right Questions" in this blog.

13. Answer. No.
13. Exhibit A. Mining is important to the economies of both Mexico and Guatemala, so many geological studies have been done to identify and prove out ore deposits. Many mines are currently producing. Others are in various stages of planning and development. Large scale mining operations have been going on for centuries in the mountainous highlands of both countries. This image depicts mining activity in Guatemala according to the US Geological Survey World Mineral Resources data base. Click to enlarge the image to full-size (this is true for all images on this blog).
Mining activity in Guatemala.
Similarly, the Chiapas highlands have many current and potential mining operations. This map is from the Servicio Geologico Mexicano SGM.
Mining activity in Chiapas.
When we get into the state of Tabasco, though, it is a different story. There is very little mining activity, particularly for metallic minerals, in the state of Tabasco, as one would expect of coastal plains in general. This map of Mexican metallic mining potential is published by SGM. It shows areas with deposits of gold, copper, silver, lead/zinc, manganese, and molybdenum.
Metallic mineral potential in Mexico.
Zooming in on our area of interest, it is apparent that Tabasco is one of the few areas in Mexico with very little potential for metallic mineral exploitation. The number 14 on this map (slightly misplaced) represents the big Ixhuatan gold mine in the Chiapas highlands about midway between Tuxtla Gutierrez and Villahermosa.
Close up of metallic mineral potential in Mexico.
13. Conclusion A. In the Book of Mormon, metallic minerals are mentioned frequently as stores of wealth and materials of commerce, tax or tribute. Specialized language, though, describes mineral exploration, extraction and refining processes, and these mining activities are limited in the text to:
This mining activity vocabulary is conspicuously absent in the text in the Land of Zarahemla. The people living in Zarahemla were as wealthy as their brethren in the highlands Alma 1:29, but their gold and silver came through trade and other economic activities besides mining Alma 4:6. The Land of Zarahemla, beside the river Sidon, is likely to be in a lowland area without significant metallic mineral mining activity. The upper and middle Mezcalapa-Grijalva, flowing through mountainous uplands, does not fit this criterion. The middle Usumacinta fits well. Advantage Usumacinta.
13. Exhibit B. We will anchor a plane above the ground at an absolute altitude of 500 meters (1,640 feet). Any surface of the earth projecting through this plane we will consider highlands, and any surface below it we will call lowlands. The Mezcalapa-Grijalva River system is in blue, the Usumacinta in red. River drainage basins are outlined in yellow. Two suggested candidates for Zarahemla, Santa Rosa on the Mezcalapa-Grijalva and Nueva Esperanza II on the Usumacinta are also shown.
The Mezcalapa-Grijalva and Usumacinta River systems with highlands
above 500 meters elevation indicated.
 13. Conclusion B. Most of the upper and middle Mezcalapa-Grijalva flows through intermontane highlands, terrain similar to the area around Guatemala City. The entire Usumacinta and many of its major tributaries flow through lowlands. Based on atmospheric visibility, climatic, and topographic factors, the text of The Book of Mormon implies that the Land of Zarahemla was a lowland region, quite different from Nephi in the highlands. Advantage Usumacinta.
13. Conclusion. The Usumacinta River basin is distinctly different from highland Guatemala in a variety of topographic ways. The Usumacinta best fits The Book of Mormon text.
13. Running Score. Mezcalapa-Grijalva 0. Usumacinta 13.