Lepreau Falls Provincial Park

Rocks

The rocks at Lepreau Falls belong to the Mabou Group and are likely Early Carboniferous age, about 325 to 315 million years old. The rocks are red to purple sandstone, shale and conglomerate. Very few fossils are found in these rocks and their age has been difficult to determine. In the 1970’s geologists thought the rocks were from the Triassic Period (251 to 199 million years ago). The fossils found here were described as Triassic age. They are now known to be much older.

Fossils

Fossils are usually the buried remains of animals and plants, preserved as petrified body remains, a cast or a mould. Fossils can also be traces made by organisms, such as footprint trackways left by animals walking across the mud. Trace fossils provide scientific information about behaviour. How fast did the animal walk? Did it travel alone or in a herd?
A rare occurrence of a tetrapod trackway was discovered at Lepreau Falls in 1974. A tetrapod is a four-legged animal. The footprints were likely made by an amphibian. At least two sets of footprints were found, with a groove down the middle made by the tail, as animal walked across a wet surface. Geological information at the time indicated the rocks here were from the Triassic Period (251 to 199 million years ago). They are now believed to be Early Carboniferous age rocks (325 to 315 million years ago). The footprints were probably left by some of the oldest amphibians on Earth.

Erosion

Rocks are eroded by the action of water slowly breaking down the layers into smaller and smaller pieces. During the winter, ice and frost will also break down the rock. As the rocks are slowly worn down the sand and mud will be washed out into the Bay of Fundy. They will eventually become sedimentary rocks again as part the recycling of the Earth’s crust. The red sedimentary rocks at Lepreau Falls were once deposited in water along a river or shoreline. The footprints trackways found here tell us the water was often shallow.

Access:
Year Round
Access:
Disabled Friendly:
Hours:
Dawn Till Dusk
Location:
Address:
South of Highway 1
West of Saint John, New Brunswick
Canada
GPS:
45.1685486, -66.4601306
Phone:

Fundy Trail Parkway

Rocks

The rock outcrops along the Fundy Trail Parkway expose both Precambrian to Cambrian rocks near the bridge at Big Salmon River, and Triassic age rocks along the coast to the west. About 400 million years of Earth history can be seen here. The older rocks tell the story of the ancient Iapetus Ocean. In Greek mythology Iapetus was a Titan, and father of Atlas. The modern Atlantic Ocean is named after Atlas.

The Atlantic Ocean

The Atlantic Ocean is a relatively recent geological feature, only about 200 million years old. The rocks at Big Salmon River are 600 million years old! The Atlantic Ocean was created by sea-floor spreading. Molten rock from the Earth’s interior rises to the surface to create new crust. As it rises and cools the new crust expands along volcanic mountain chains on the seafloor. Old crust returns to the Earth’s interior along deep ocean trenches. Seafloor volcanic mountain chains mark the middle of an expanding ocean basin. The rising molten material creates a ‘bubble’ in the crust that eventually breaks (to create volcanoes).
They eventually join to form a long break in the crust where a new ocean is born. One crack fails to join another. The ‘failed rift’ is called an aulacogen. The Bay of Fundy is a ‘failed rift’ created when the Atlantic Ocean was born. Instead of becoming part of a new ocean, it became a ‘rift valley’ that filled with sediment.

Coastal Erosion

Rocks are eroded by the action of water slowly breaking down the layers into smaller pieces. As the rocks are slowly worn down the sand and mud will be washed out into the Bay of Fundy. They will eventually become sedimentary rocks again as part of the recycling of the Earth’s crust. ‘Flower pots’ are a picturesque result of coastal erosion. They are small fragment so the eroding coastline that have withstood the pounding of the sea. They remind us where the coastline once stood. Someday they will succumb to the sea.

Access:
Access:
Mid May (Victoria Day weekend), through mid October (Canadian Thanksgiving weekend) Off-season access to the park is available through our off-season gate located just outside the main entrance for walking, hiking and biking only.
Disabled Friendly:
Yes
Hours:
May 20-Jun 24 9am-5pm
Jun 25-Aug 19 8am-8pm
Aug 20-Sep 5 9am-7pm
Sep 6-Oct 10 9am-5pm
Location:
Address:
Entrance
3 Fundy Trail Parkway
Salmon River, New Brunswick
E5R 1W4 ~ Canada
Office
229 Main Street
St. Martins
E5R 1B7 ~ Canada
GPS:
45.4085942, -65.4314777

Irving Nature Park

Rocks

The geology of the Irving Nature Park includes both Devonian to Carboniferous bedrock (359 to 346 million years old) exposed on Taylors Island and at Sheldon Point and overlying sand, gravel and clay deposited during the last ice age less than 15,000 years ago. The age of the older volcanic and sedimentary rocks has been hard to determine. 

Although they have many interesting features, this note will focus on the ice age geology of the Irving Nature Park. This is one of the best places in Stonehammer to see this part of the geologic record. The ice age geology is made up of “unconsolidated” sediments. They are not rock yet, they are too young.

 

Climate Change

The end of the ice age was a time of rapid climate change especially during the “Younger Dryas” cold interval. About 11,000 years ago temperatures plummeted about 7˚C in a decade. Sub-arctic insects re-invaded the Maritimes for hundreds of years until temperature warmed again. A peat bog on the hill at Saints Rest Beach records this rapid climate event.

Glaciers

At a time geologists call the “Last Glacial Maximum”, about 20,000 years ago, continental glaciers covered most of North America, including the Maritimes. By 10,000 years ago New Brunswick was probably “ice-free”. As the glaciers retreated they left piles of sand and gravel along their margin. Called “moraines” and “outwash”, these piles of sediment are easily seen on the modern landscape. We often use them as sand and gravel quarries. The quarry on Sand Cove Road above the beach is an example. About 15,000 years ago the front of the glacier stood here at the Irving Nature Park. It is called a tidewater glacier since the glacier ice was up against the ocean. The red clay along the beach cliffs is composed of layers of ocean sediment. Occasionally fossils of snails, clams, sea urchins and starfish can be found in the clay. As the glacier continued to retreat it left a series of moraines where it stood still for a period of time. Looking northwest from the beach you can see Manawagonish Road on the hill. The road is built on the Manawagonish Moraine. This moraine acted as a dam and forced the St. John River to flow through the Reversing Rapids.

Access:
Access:
Disabled Friendly:
Hours:
Location:
West Saint John
Address:
1379 Sand Cove Road
Saint John, New Brunswick
E2L 4M3 ~ Canada
GPS:
45.2257772, -66.1175892
Stonehammer UNESCO Global Geopark