“And they were spared and were not sunk and buried up in the earth; and they were not drowned in the depths of the sea; and they were not burned by fire, neither were they fallen upon and crushed to death; and they were not carried away in the whirlwind; neither were they overpowered by the vapor of smoke and of darkness…deaths and destructions by fire, and by smoke, and by tempests, and by whirlwinds, and by the opening of the earth to receive them.”
3 Nephi 10:13-14
In these verses, an ancient American prophet (Nephi) sums up the destruction that occurred when the Savior died in AD 34. While thousands died in the catastrophe, many were spared from the fires, storms and earthquakes because of their righteousness.
Modern research provides insight into the destruction that accompanied the Savior’s death.
Insights into the destruction at Jesus’ death
- Earthquake around AD 34. A wave of earthquakes hit the central-eastern United States (such as Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee) every 300-500 years. For example many earthquakes went off in 1811-1812 during the New Madrid earthquakes. Seismologists found evidence for an earthquake around AD 300 or earlier. (ZionVision Documentary)
- Fire-resistant vapor of smoke and darkness. The “vapor of smoke and darkness,” that prevented the kindling of fires and caused some to be “overpowered,” (perhaps suffocated) may have been caused by dense volcanic gases (carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide) and ash sinking to ground level replacing the oxygen necessary to light a fire and to breathe. (Maxwell Institute)
- Earthquake accompanied by storms. The 1541 earthquake that completely destroyed the old capital of Guatemala was preceded by ” ‘the fury of the wind, the incessant, appalling lightning and dreadful thunder’ that were ‘indescribable’ in their violence.” (Maxwell Institute)
- Sunken cities in America. There are about 28 sunken cities in California. (Wikipedia)
- Volcanos in Central America. Central America is the second most volcanically active region the world- Indonesia is the first. According to a model by John L. Sorensen, some Book of Mormon events may have taken place in Central America. While many volcanos exist in this area, they have only majorly erupted twice over the last several thousand years: once in 1230-1190 BC and once in 30 BC-AD 170. (FAIR)
- Ice core dating. Every year atmospheric gases are trapped in falling snow in Greenland and Antarctica. Over time this snow compacts into ice, retaining atmospheric gases. The gas concentration is different in winter and summer, thus, archaeologists can date an ice core sample going back year by year. When a large volcano erupts, fallout gases sometimes reach Antarctica/Greenland and settle in the ice. A scientist can gauge when a large volcano went off, by seeing which part of an ice core contains volcanic gases, such as hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide. (Maxwell Institute)
- Tacaná volcanic eruption. Researchers estimate the Tacaná volcano (Mexico-Guatemala border) erupted between AD 25 and AD 72. Mudflows followed the eruption burying part of Izapa. (Maxwell Institute)
- Subduction along the Pacific Ocean. If the Native Americans lived on the west pacific coast, it’s possible some of them “drowned in the depths of the sea,” as oceanic plates in the Pacific were pushed below American continental plates. it’s possible some sunken cities may reside in the Atacama Trench along the west coast of South America. The Atacama Trench is 26,460 ft deep is some parts. (Maxwell Institute)
“The power of the Holy Ghost . . . must ever be the chief source of evidence for the truth of the Book of Mormon. All other evidence is secondary. . . . No arrangement of evidence, however skillfully ordered; no argument, however adroitly made, can ever take its place.”
- B. H. Roberts
Personal Notes: I enjoy reading about possible physical evidence in support of The Book of Mormon. Some day everyone will know The Book of Mormon is true. While physical evidence is intriguing, my personal testimony of The Book of Mormon came as I read, pondered and prayed about it when I was 12. I invite you to do the same- reading The Book of Mormon will bless your life! :)