Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are world-renowned for their stories (this side of the grass of course). However, it is the ground beneath their feet that is offering up fascinating tales of their own.
Scientists and rock hounds the world over come to explore the island’s ancient, world class geology and ecology.
With early life formation, continental fault lines, exotic plant species and ancient seas, why wouldn’t they?
1. Mistaken Point
On July 17, 2016 Mistaken Point was announced as NL’s 4th UNESCO world heritage site.
For one thing, this 5 km (3 mile) stretch of coastline is actually part of a 579-560 million year old ancient sea floor.
Moreover, it is home to the ediacaran fossils. Here you walk among the oldest complex life fossils found anywhere on earth. So abundant, in fact that exposed areas, the size of tennis courts, are covered in ancient life. Guided tour only.
2. Fortune Head
140 meter (460 foot) headland called a global boundary stratotype section and point (GSSP). Weird name I know.
In fact, this thick low lying rock cliff jutting into the sea is a 542 million year old geological boundary between the Precambrian and Cambrian periods. To put it another way, the point where animal life began on earth.
Here you will discover some of the world’s oldest fossils of skeletal organisms superbly exposed.
3. Dover Fault Site
A 410 million year old fault site 200-500 meters (656-1640 feet) wide and 343 kms (213 miles) long. It also delivers up a spectacular vista.
Amazingly, Newfoundland’s plate was once separated by a sea at this very spot until the ancient continents of Laurentia and Gondwana collided together.
4. The Tablelands
The Tablelands are situated in Gros Morne National Park. They are a 1.2 billion year old ocean floor and UNESCO world heritage site.
A region that looks more like Arizona than Newfoundland. A flat-topped mountain of scorched orange and red desert that is part of the Appalachians mountain range.
In fact, ancient peridotite rocks can be found in the Tablelands. So rare they are usually only located deep in the earth’s mantle.
5. Limestone Barrens
The Limestone Barrens are a unique terrain type and ecosystem. They are patches and slivers of widely separated un-forested land found only in a few other places in the world.
Additionally, it is home to native plants you will not see anywhere else on the planet.
This 200 kms (124 miles) long disjointed string totals 15 hectares (37 acres) and is an “at risk ecosystem“.
6. Green Point
The geology of Gros Morne illustrates the concept of plate tectonics. It has shed important light on geological evolution and its processes.
Moreover, in 2000, Green Point was designated a global stratotype section and point (GSSP). This represents the division between the Cambrian and the Ordovician systems by the International Commission on Stratigraphy.
Most notably, the first appearance of iapetognathus fluctivagus, a conodont fossil, 4.8m below the earliest known planktic graptolite fossil, rhabdinopora praeparabola occurred here.
These shales also represent a 30 million year record of deep-ocean sediments laid in a base-of-slope environment in the Iapetus Ocean.
This geological significance of Gros Morne helped it secure UNESCO world heritage site status in 1987.