Cities that sank
|Cities that sank into the ground
3 Nephi 9:6-7 indicates there were four cities that "sunk into the depths of the earth," and then waters came up in the location where these four cities once stood. The intent of these two verses become much more clear if you read verses 6-7 as one verse, not two, which I believe was the original intent, (see the semi-colon at the end of verse 6). These four cities were swallowed up in the earth. Unlike the cities that were swallowed up in verse 8, waters came up and occupied the lands where these four cities had once stood. The waters did not cover the cities, as they were covered up by the earth cleaving back together, (see 3 Nephi 10:10). After the earth came back together, the waters came up in the location where the four cities had once stood.
In my opinion, four cities would cover a substantially large area of land. Therefore, there should be a large body of water standing where those four cities were located, assuming those waters have not since dissipated. There are very few candidates for such a body of water in Guatemala. Alma 21:1-2 indicates the land of Jerusalem was close to the land of Mormon. We are therefore looking for a large body of water in the south, central part of Guatemala. My candidate for such a body of water, is lake Izabal, on the eastern border of Guatemala. My guess is that these four cities sunk into the ground that is below that lake.
Many writers place the city of Jerusalem as having sunk in the Waters of Mormon, and therefore locate the city adjacent to the waters of Mormon, quoting Alma 21:1-2 to justify that view. Yet, that is not what this scripture says. It states that it was the land of Jerusalem that bordered the land of Mormon, not the city of Jerusalem. And it was the land of Mormon that were bordered, not the waters of Mormon.
The correct application of Alma 21:1-2 is therefore that the land of Jerusalem, (not the city of Jerusalem), bordered the land of Mormon, not the waters of Mormon. This does not help us understand how close the city of Jerusalem was to the borders of the land of Mormon, but given the explanation, the location of these four cities that sunk into the ground, Jerusalem was a substantial distance from the waters of Mormon.
There are two other pieces of information that may help discover where these four cities were located, prior to their demise. One of the cities was named Onihah, which implies that city was by the ocean, (or some other source of water) as that is one of the meanings of hah in the Book of Mormon.
3 Nephi 9:7 also states that the land where these four cities, along with their inhabitants, were "...buried up in the depths of the earth," that waters "came up in the stead thereof..." Use of the term "waters" in the Book of Mormon always implies water that has more than one source feeding into it. For example, it is the waters of Sidon, not the water of Sidon. However, the small pond where the Savior had the twelve baptized, had only one source of water.
(see 3 Nephi 19:10-11)
The area where these four cities sank into the depths of the earth, therefore had to be in a location where the waters that covered up the space, had more than one source. It eliminates rain as the source of the water, and it eliminates the source of water being a river, as in that case, the waters would have come down, not up. The fact that the waters "came up" implies to me that they rushed in from the ocean, or from an underground source. If the waters came from underneath the ground, it would have had to have been more than one source, more than one spring, as the term waters is plural. These descriptions lead me to believe that the area where these cities disappeared, was under what is now Lake Izabal, and the waters being referred to, are those of the ocean.