Landscape

Are the landforms of the Baja Peninsula the same now as they were during Book of Mormon times?

The Baja peninsula has been moving away from the Mexican mainland for millions of years.  That movement is probably not linear, but it is ongoing.  We do not know exactly how much the entire peninsula has moved since Nephite times, but if the movement of the last 6 million years is used as a baseline, it means that a good guess would be that the entire peninsula has probably moved further into the pacific ocean and further from the Mexican mainland by approximately the length of a football field since Nephite times.

As the peninsula moves, the land on the west tends to raise up and the land on the eastern shoreline tends to drop off into the Gulf of California.  Incidentally, this pattern of the land falling off on the eastern shore fits well with the Book of Mormon account of the city of Moroni being sunk in the depths of the sea. Of course, this doesn’t rule out the occasional section of Baja falling off the western shore as well, like this.

Not surprisingly, the peninsula is tectonically active and experiences many earthquakes including frequent large quakes.  All that shaking has profound effects on the landforms of the peninsula.  There are some amateur videos of recent quakes in Baja that provide a sense of the destruction that can happen during these quakes both to the landforms and to any archaeological structures that may have existed a couple thousand years ago.

In addition to the tectonic activity, erosion and deposition by wind and water is ubiquitous throughout the peninsula.  The image of the peninsula in the banner at the top of this website is an image taken by NASA showing dust being picked up from Sonora, Mexico and being deposited in Baja and being eroded from Baja and blown out into the Pacific Ocean.

A recent publication regarding a Pacific coast barrier island and dunefield in the central peninsula found that:

“The barrier island W of Guerrero Negro has prograded seaward about 1·6 km in the last 1800 years while an aeolian dunefield fed by sand blown from beaches has advanced inland up to 13 km.”

 

-FRYBERGER, S. G., KRYSTINIK, L. F. and SCHENK, C. J. (1990), Tidally flooded back-barrier dunefield, Guerrero Negro area, Baja California, Mexico. Sedimentology, 37: 23–43. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3091.1990.tb01981.x

 

The peninsula of Baja California is an environment experiencing continuous forces of change.