3 Nephi 8. Disasters Accompanying the Crucifixion
It seems strange that so many natural phenomena should occur simultaneously in one region, yet the Book of Mormon says that, at the time of Christ’s crucifixion, “the whole face of the land was changed, because of the tempest and the whirlwinds, and the thunderings and the lightnings, and the exceedingly great quaking of the whole earth (3 Nephi 8:12; see also 3 Nephi 8:16; 10:9), while some cities were “sunk and buried up in the earth” or “drowned in the depths of the sea” or “burned by fire,” followed by “vapor of smoke and darkness” (3 Nephi10:13; see also 2 Nephi 26:5; Helaman 14:7). The darkness lasted for three days and was so “thick” that people could “feel” it, yet were unable to light fires (3 Nephi 8:20-23). How is this possible?
A simple answer would be that “with God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). But, in fact, all of these phenomena have been known to accompany volcanic explosions. While many volcanoes merely expel lava from the depths of the earth, some explode with such force that they produce trembling of the earth and even tsunamis (often wrongly called “tidal waves”) that can inundate large tracts of land. The tremendous explosion creates a shock wave that creates strong winds and devastates forests and buildings. The cloud of ash accompanying the explosion produces its own lightning and when the ash falls to ground, it makes the day black as night and can truly be felt by those living in the fallout zone. For details, see:
John A. Tvedtnes, “Historical Parallels to the Destruction at the Time of the Crucifixion,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 3/1 (Spring 1994)
Bart J. Kowallis, “In the Thirty and Fourth Year: A Geologist’s View of the Great Destruction in 3 Nephi,” BYU Studies 37/3 (1997-98). For a summary of this article, see “A Scientific Look at the Cataclysm in 3 Nephi 8,” Insights: An Ancient Window 18/10.
The Reuters photo below is of an explosion of the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano in Chile in June 2011. The volcano has erupted several times since then.