April 3 2022. Boots on the ground research work began for the wall foundations of Zarahemla.
Over 2 Years Ago: Wayne May discovered a large berm that extended about 500 feet along the southern foothills of the Zarahemla plain, west of Montrose. It was located within the tree line. It was suspected at the time that the berm could be the foundation remnant of an ancient fortification wall. The height of the berm was about 13 feet.
November 2021: Don Cummins of Air Data Solutions schedules a flight path of 34,000 acres for Hi-Resolution LiDAR for the Heartland Research Group. The target area starts just south of Fort Madison and extends south beyond Montrose and also includes Nauvoo on the east side of the Mississippi. LiDAR is a process of shooting billions of laser beams of various wavelengths to the ground which bounce back to the plane where the timed results are recorded. Later the raw data is processed to remove trees and vegetation in order to reveal precise ground elevation and contours.
January 2022: The processed LiDAR files (i.e. point cloud files which are used to create GeoTIFF files for ArcGIS and QGIS visualization programs) are made available to the Heartland Research Group.
January 23, 2022: Multiple berms, potentially part of the ancient walls of Zarahemla, are first identified along the entire foothill region south and west of Montrose and north along the foothills to the outskirts of Fort Madison, where the scanning stops. Out of 9.42 total miles of scanned foothills, 5.0 miles of distinct berms are identified from the LiDAR, far more that the original 500 ft originally found by Wayne.
Week of March 27, 2022: An HRG expedition team visited one of the berm sites with permission of owner Roger Chatfield, to gather information and establish if the berms are man-made, and to try and date them.
The following has been reported from the expedition team:
From Roger Chatfield: He first saw the berms in the early 1940’s. At that time they were forested. The berms are fruitful areas for hunters of ancient artifacts and much has been found over the years. The berms are not used for water retention or flood control. Farmland at the top (plateau) of the foothills was once used for cattle which destroyed vegetation and led to flooding and washed out some of the berms in modern times.
From Mike Stahlman: A large tree on the Chatfield berm was found and a core sample taken so the growth rings could be counted. The tree is estimated to be 144 years old.
From Larisa Golovko (LandVisor scanning) and Yuri Manstein: They have done some scanning on the berms. Results have not yet been processed.
Research is ongoing but so far I think there is a general consensus that these berms are man-made, not of modern construction, and have the potential to be part of the wall defenses of the ancient city of Zarahemla and that it is worth our continued study and exploration (especially when the weather is better). The berms are where we would expect the walls to be for the ancient city of Zarahemla.
A description of the construction of defensive walls is given in the Book of Mormon. The image below is just one possible view of interpretation but it gives an idea of what we are considering and finding on the ground.
One one short expedition in March of 2022 has been undertaken so far to visually inspect a very short section of a wall berm that may have once formed a foundation for the walls of Zarahemla.