Volcanoes and Lightning

NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day, March 11, 2013: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap130311.html

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day, March 11, 2013: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap130311.html

And thus the face of the whole earth became deformed, because of the tempests, and the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the quaking of the earth.  3 Nephi 8:17, the Book of Mormon

The huge, destructive storm described in 3 Nephi 8 has long been mysterious to some and derided by others, but in recent years, some scholars have shown that the features described there (wind, earthquakes, darkness, and lightning) fit a volcanic eruption.  (See here and here, for example.)

Certainly, Joseph Smith knew nothing about volcanism.  The existence of this storm narrative makes far more sense as a summary written by those who experienced it.

The photo above, one of NASA’s Astronomy Pictures of the Day from last week, dramatically illustrates the plausability of that story.  Volcanic eruptions do produce lightning.  Pretty cool lightning at that!

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