The Roar of the Bay

The Roar of the Bay
The Roar of the Bay

Friday, December 27, 2013

HO HO Holidays and future tidings

Happy Holidays! I haven't posted since August but not for the lack of rock hunting I did. Well, Fall wasn't a busy period as work took me away from making any significant rock trips.

This coming Spring will make me more busy than last year's rock hunting season as I have an incredible amount of new locations to go pick at. But before then, I intend to keep myself busy.

On the weekend of February 7th and 8th there is the AGS's (Atlantic Geologica Society) 2014 Colloquium and Annual General Meeting in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. For more information, you can check via this link: http://ees.acadiau.ca/~raeside/ags2014/index.html. They will update as the information comes in.

The other event happening in May of 2014 (May 21st - 23rd) is the GAC-MAC Annual Meeting held by the Geological Association of Canada and the Mineralogical Association of Canada in Fredericton, New Brunswick. More information via this link here: http://www.unb.ca/conferences/gacmac2014/

This should keep me busy for a while. Hope to hit the cliffs sometime soon. Laters!

- Keenan

Gypsum Quarries, Hillsborough, New Brunswick


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Miguasha National Park (Quebec, Canada)

A few weeks ago I took a day trip to our neighboring province of Quebec to check out Miguasha National Park. I've always wanted to check that place since I've started researching fossil localities.

Miguasha National Park is what the paleontology community sees as the world's most important paleontological fossil record of the Devonian Period. Most of the main fossil fish groups have been found here, including lobe-finned fish, the antecedent of tetrapods. The park's fossil collection has over 5000+ specimens. The importance of these cliffs and the treasures they hold has put this little community on the map, and eventually became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For me, seeing this site was important. I've been going to Joggins quite often and appreciated what information that this place was giving out to the world. I wanted to see how this mirror image of an as important site from a different time period would compare with Joggins's.

Miguasha (red dot)

Me and my friend Ray left Moncton with his little red hybrid Prius early to be able to get to Miguasha at a reasonable time. The drive from Moncton to Campbelton took about 2 hours and a half, and from Campbelton to Nouvelle (Quebec) was about 30 minutes or so. The scenery driving up was gorgeous as you come across the eroded Appalachian mountains and Mount Sugarloaf, an extinct volcano of the same age as the rocks where the fish from Miguasha are found. After crossing the bridge that links the two Canadian provinces, the signage made finding the interpretation center pretty easy.

Eusthenopteron foordi ('Prince of Miguasha')

The star attraction of Miguasha is Eusthenopteron foordi, also called 'The Prince', which made this place famous. Eusthenopteron is a good example of a transitional animal by having this fish well on its way to evolve into tetrapods.

Bothriolepis

Another well-known abundant animal found in these cliffs is Bothriolepsis canadensis, a placoderm that had bone forming some sort of armor plating mostly on their head and thorax. The specimens I saw at the Park's interpretation center were exquisite!

Silurian fossiliferous limetones (Anticosti Island)
Can you spot the trilobites?

The exhibits didn't just contain fossils from the area, but also from other parts of the province, and other parts of Canada. They currently have some bone from an Hadrosaur that used to roam Alberta during the Cretaceous.

Archaeopteris halliana

The Devonian Period was called the 'Age of Fish', but there was also life on land, albeit a bit more desolate and mostly populated by arthropods (primitive insects). Plants like this archaeopteris doted the landscape. This fern-like plant was similar to modern trees, but reproduced by producing spores like many other flora of the Paleozoic.

Eusthenopteron foordi

Escuminaspis laticeps

Escuminaspis laticeps was a bottom feeding fish that was on its way out. They went extinct not long after this period of time. They were similar to the modern lamprey, as these were jawless fish.

Bothriolepis canadensis (complete)

My friend Ray with Dunkleosteus (cast), which could grow up to 7 meters long

The Prince of Miguasha, Eusthenopteron foordi

Close up of Eusthenopteron's tail (look at 'em bones)

Eusthenopteron showing off its teeth



After the guided tour of the interpretation center was done, we went down to the beach. High tide was quickly closing in so we couldn't stay on the beach for too long, just enough to have a quick chat on the past and current digs done at the cliffs.

Layers of shale and silt that still hide fish

Miguasha's Interpretation Center

And that was it. We made our back back to New Brunswick with a quick stop in Campbelton for a late lunch. Looking back, it is easy to see why geologists keep coming to this area. Across the bay, the cliffs of Atholville all the way to Belledune have in them a treasure trove of Devonian fossils just as important as the ones found in Miguasha. I feel that I'll be spending a little bit of time up North in the near future.

Till next time, cheers!

- Keenan

Monday, August 26, 2013

Martin Head (Southern New Brunswick)


There's a place, called Martin Head, located just West of Fundy Park that people having been going to for a very long time. I've been talking to people and every time I mention camping sites, people would ask me: "Have you gone to Martin Head yet?". As it turned out I hadn't, so thus became an item that went up in my 'To do' list.


Martin Head is a mash up of very old and not as old rocks. The 'island' which goes by the name Martin Head is made up mostly of Cambrian rocks, or even older. The basalts are mixed with some sedimentary rocks of about the same age, and some mineral deposits (I couldn't find which type of minerals occurred). The section between the island and the beach which includes some sections of the cliffs are of younger age, dating close to the Late Triassic. Click here for information about the fossilized Sand Dunes of Martin Head. These are mostly buff or reddish sandstones. There is a small section that juts out from between these Triassic sedimentary rocks and much older rocks. This small segment of rock is mostly composed of limestones and gypsum from the Early Carboniferous. The rocks further inland that make up most of the cliffs are much older than the rest. These Neoproterozoic-aged rocks are mostly volcanic in origin.


Getting there is rough, very very rough. To get to Martin Head from Alma, you have to cross the park come out at the park's Sussex exit (since the road goes straight to Sussex). Near the park exit is Shepody road that heads West. This is a rough dirt road, as in 'just being graded' rough with rocks the size of my fist in some places. About half an hour or so, you take Goose Creek road that snakes South and takes you through old mountains. Going down the road in what sometimes seemed like a dry river bed, I seriously started to doubt myself and if my car would be able to make it back up. Worse, there were thundershowers in the forecast, so the road could be hell if they water started to turn this into a mudslide. I was surprised to see trucks pulling campers up and down the road. Hard enough to make it alone with my car, but a truck pulling a camper? Nuts! The drive was super rough, but it was gorgeous and very well worth it. After another hour on this gauntlet of rocks, I made it to the beach.

The 'island'

I made my way close to the island but the tide had just started to go down, making it difficult for me to cross the usually dry path to reach it. I met up with a fella from Saint John that was enjoying the ATV trails and got a call that some heavy rain was coming our way. I abandoned any attempt to reach the island and headed the other way to check the rocks before heading back out.

Foreboding clouds raining on my parade

I doubt there's any macro fossils in these old rocks. Plant fossils have been found in the Triassic sandstones, and the limestone I heard was fossiliferous, but the older rocks, not so much of a trace as I could tell in my short stay.



Some of the rocks shows high stress and some faulting. Quartzite and rhyolites are found amongst some of the basalt and crystal tuff. Some layers that look like schist show this dark rock that's been ground to a fine powder.





With the dark clouds coming in and the feeling of a few rain drops on my face, I turned around and made my way back to the car. As the car slowly crawled up the steep road for what felt an eternity, the rain started to fall. I could feel rocks rolling down the road, and the leaves of the trees making up the thick canopy of the forest rustling and shaking.

After finally making up the toughest stretch of road, it stopped raining and the sky cleared up again. The road was in better shape that I thought. The rains hit more inland and spared me and my car from potentially what could have been a very bad day.


I drove back towards Alma by going through Fundy Park, stopping briefly to take a few photos of the highest vantage point in the area.

Fossil cliffs of Cape Enrage, with lighthouse at end of cape (far right)

Alma wharf at low tide

I was famished at this point, so I stopped at the Tides Restaurant in Alma for supper. I love the food there and I've been going there as often as I can. They're only open during tourist season, so I make the most of it. Satisfied with my meal, I end my stay in Alma and head back towards Moncton, but not before checking out the boutiques in Hopewell Cape to pick up some trinkets.

I was happy with this trip, but bummed out I didn't get the opportunity to explore more the Triassic rocks for potential fossils. I'll have to plan this better and head out with a different vehicle. I just can't bear seeing my Volkswagen rabbit going through that road hell again.

Till next time!

- Keenan

Friday, August 23, 2013

Tynemouth Creek (Gardner Creek)

I've been tallying up a list of new sites I wanted to visit and Tynemouth Creek was on the top of that list. The Tynemouth Creek coastlines, located in Southern New Brunswick between Saint Martins and Saint John, has been the site of newly discovered trackways which had been few before. The formations of this site are about Lower Pennsylvanian (Carboniferous) in age, with the occasional sliver of Pre-Cambrian rock crossing some of the local rock, and Triassic sections further East towards St. Martins.

Triassic cliffs at St. Martins

Driving there isn't too bad. From Moncton you drive towards Sussex, then head South through St Martins. I took the time to stop in town to check the beach and take a few pics before heading out. I wanted to go down the beach at Giffin Pond but access wasn't easy, so I turned back and made a quick stop at the light house to enjoy the scenery early in the morning.


I made it back to St Martins and continued on to Bains Corner, taking a side road South of there to Tynemouth Creek. Same thing here about access. I could have gone down but access wasn't easy to spot. This wasn't also the site I really wanted to check, so I hopped back in my car and headed West towards Gardner Creek.


Gardner Creek is kinda split in two where the bridge acts as the divider. The West section has these preserved, unaltered fossils and trackways from the Lower Carboniferous. The East section of these cliffs are more twisted, folder, and faulted, with Carboniferous formation slapped beside Triassic rocks, similarly found further East at St Martins.


I chose to walk the East section first. I immediately came upon stigmaria roots and other plant material. The further East I went, the less fossils I would find. Here's a few photos showing folding and faulting.


Mini fractures

Folding with smaller folds under the contact zone



The above pic shows the top strata, or rock layers, at an horizontal position, and the bottom section folded.

Exposed fold

Fault hidden from view (center), layers changing angle, and folding (far right)



West of the bridge at Gardner Creek, heading towards Wallace Beach, the sandstone yielded more fossils and trackways than the previous spot I went to. Most of the layers are not eroding at a fast pace, making the exposed trackways not so well detailed.

What's cool about these layers of sandstones are the calamites and other tree-like plants in situ, at a vertical position as they would have been when this place was a forest. The calamites are numerous and concentrated at certain spots.

Calamites in growth position

Calamites 'stumps'


Fern-like plant, very weathered

Arthropleura tracks

The pic above shows diplichnites, possibly made by a good size arthropleura (a kind of giant millipede). There were reports of some being found in this area and this slab had two sets of these tracks crossing each other.


The other set is not as well defined as the other set but you can still make out the direction.

Two sets are intersecting at the bottom

The site was very interesting and I wished I had stayed longer. Next visit I will have to explore further West towards Wallace Beach/McCoy Head, and attempt to check the cliffs directly at Tynemouth Creek and/or Giffin Pond.

That's it! Till next time!

- Keenan