“Insomuch That It Did Shake the Whole Earth as If It Was About to Divide Asunder”

Bryan Richards

Hugh Nibley

“Major earthquakes are so often accompanied by ’heavy rains, thunder and hailstorms, violent tempests,’ etc., that some specialists insist that ’there is some evidence that certain weather conditions may trigger an earthquake,’ as in the Japanese earthquake of 1923, of which some Japanese seismologists maintain that ’the low barometric pressure was the trigger force which set off the earthquake.’ At any rate, great earthquakes are preceded by great storms often enough to cause speculation.” (Since Cumorah, p. 232)

“It Did Shake the Whole Earth”

“…the account of the great destruction given in 3 Nephi 8 finds remarkable parallels with what modern seismology and vulcanology show about cataclysmic geological events and with historical reports of such catastrophes…the region of Mesoamerica…is a place of continuing volcanic and seismic activity.” (Daniel C. Peterson, Ensign, Jan. 2000, p. 19)

Hugh Nibley

"If you go into books on earthquakes and check this out, you’ll see that the order of the events is all very correct and accurate…The Book of Mormon just describes a No. 12 earthquake-No. 8 on the Richter Scale might do it. But the Assam earthquake in August 1950 was 12 on the scale. Remember, every time you go up a number, you double the strength of the earthquake, so you can imagine what a 12 would be if the last San Francisco earthquake was a 7.5 at the extreme. So this is some earthquake, and the order in which the events are described is very good here-all the things that should take place. So we’ve summed them up here in this very factual account (3 Nephi 8).
"Well, it was a terror, about 11 or 12 on the Wood-Neuman scale. It is probably not the worst earthquake on record, because Assam was total destruction, and in this one we’re told there were some cities which remained. It was not total. It describes what happened at the epicenter. There were cities that remained; whereas, in the great Assam earthquake of 1950 the damage was total over a large area. I’m going to read you an account of that Assam earthquake…On August 15, 1950, there was an earthquake (in Tibet) that was total over 10,000 square miles and [killed] 500,000 people. Only 14 people survived. Imagine an earthquake [that killed] 500,000 people over that area. Well here’s a description of it.
“’On the morning of August 15, 1950, the day of the biggest and strangest earthquake in our times, it gave no inkling of what was to come.’ All of a sudden just this terrible storm and then the earthquake. All the seismographs in the world went mad…The energy unleashed was the equivalent of three million atom bombs…Stranger things were to follow. By all the rules the scene of the cataclysm should have been invaded by reporters, scientists, and relief workers. Nothing-it was just wiped out completely. Instead, they didn’t even have to bother. They were afraid of the Chinese going [in there]; that’s the Chinese border with Tibet. No worry after that-the map had completely changed. ’Where there had been rivers before, there were mountains now. Rivers that ran in one direction now ran in the opposite direction.’” (Teachings From the Book of Mormon, Lecture 82, p. 316-7)