Source:Echoes:Ch2:3:Vulcanology in BoM

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Detailed and accurate information on volcanoes and earthquakes in the Book of Mormon

Detailed and accurate information on volcanoes and earthquakes in the Book of Mormon

The modern scientific disciplines of seismology and vulcanology also have something to contribute to this matter: Joseph Smith lived in an area that was, geologically speaking, very quiet. He never saw a volcano, never experienced an earthquake of any notable magnitude (if, indeed, he ever felt one at all). Yet the Book of Mormon's portrayal of the great New World catastrophes that marked the crucifixion of Christ is remarkably realistic, down to the aftershocks, the choking vapors, and the lightning storms that arise when volcanic particles churn at high velocities in the cloud above an eruption. It seems very likely that 3 Nephi was written either by someone who was an eyewitness to a major volcanic and seismic event (which Joseph never was) or, alternatively, by someone who had read accounts of the Nephite destruction. A third possibility is that someone employed similar accounts from other sources in order to formulate a fictional though deceptively realistic tale. However, it seems extremely unlikely that Joseph Smith had done any vulcanological or seismological research.[1]


  1. Daniel C. Peterson, "Not Joseph's, and Not Modern," in Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2002), Chapter 2, references silently removed—consult original for citations.