Norton Moosehorn Creek

Rocks

Highway 1 from Bloomfield to Sussex cuts through beautiful exposures of the Albert Formation, a Lower Carboniferous unit that represents lake, swamp and river deposits. Highway outcrops display nice examples of shallow water ripples. Large scale ripples created along river bottoms are more difficult to see. Ripple crests can be metres apart and sometimes fossil tree logs are trapped in the ancient ripple troughs.

Stopping on the highway is not permitted! — future plans include an interpretation centre that will tell the story of the fossil forest.

Fossil Forest

The Albert Formation outcrops near Norton record the remains of ancient rivers that drained highlands built during the creation of the supercontinent Pangea. Rivers meandered along valleys, shallow lakes and wetlands dotted the landscape. Along the margins of the rivers dense forests of lycopod trees grew on the floodplains. The trees, known as Lepidodendropsis, grew to about 10 metres tall and up to 20 centimetres in diameter. A recent study of the rocks near Norton showed that trees grew in dense thickets on thin soil horizons. Floods regularly drowned the forests. Trace fossils of small arthropods have been found and rare remains of fish are known from the Albert Formation.

Moosehorn Creek

This small stream flows into the Kennebecasis River from the south. A covered bridge built in 1915 crosses Moosehorn Creek. The bridge can be accessed along a trail that crosses under Highway 1. The trailhead and parking is located 3.5 kilometres southwest of Norton along a dirt road. The bridge was built seven years after the first fossils were discovered here by geologists from the Geological Survey of Canada. Palaeobotanist W.J. Wilson described collections of lycopods (plant fossils) he found. Wilson had been a member of the Natural History Society of New Brunswick and lived in Saint John before moving to Ottawa to join “The Survey”.

This area of New Brunswick is well-known for its covered bridges. Bridges were covered to protect them from rotting. You might want to tour covered bridges and observe the geology near them.

Access:
Access:
Disabled Friendly:
Hours:
Dawn Till Dusk
Location:
Address:
Highway 1
Norton, New Brunswick
Canada
*Follow signs to the covered bridge trailhead, 3.5 km southwest of village.
GPS:
45.6116307, -65.7195972
Phone:

Rockwood Park

Rocks

The park is appropriately named. The rocks found in Rockwood Park are quite diverse. They include Precambrian marble, Precambrian gneiss, Precambrian to Cambrian igneous rocks (granite), tonalite, granodiorite and dacite and Devonian sandstone and conglomerate. Two geologic terranes are found in the park. The Caledonian Terrane includes the McBrien Lake Formation dacite and the Cambrian Saint John Group, found just outside the park. Northwest of the dacite, rocks belong to the Brookville Terrane. The Devonian rocks are a later cover sequence of younger sedimentary rocks.
A major fault called the Caledonia Fault separates the terranes. The main road past the Lily Lake Pavilion follows the fault line.

A Long History

Rockwood Park has had a long history of scientific study and geological exploration. The Natural History Society of New Brunswick examined the geology of the park in the late 1800s. Rock specimens Society members collected from the park are found in the New Brunswick Museum collection. Howes Cave in the Ashburn Formation marble was discovered in the 1860s and described in the Society Bulletin in 1904. Even earlier in the 1800s a graphite mine operated near the outlet of Lily Lake.

Geocaching

Rockwood Park has many trails that allow opportunities to explore the geology on foot, on a mountain bike, or on horseback. Get up-close by rock climbing with a guide. In the winter it is a great place to explore on cross-county skis or snowshoes.

Access:
Access:
Disabled Friendly:
Hours:
Dawn Till Dusk
Location:
Address:
10 Fisher Lake Drive
Saint John, New Brunswick
Canada
GPS:
45.3039657, -66.0594638

Tucker Park

Rocks

The rocks at Tucker Park are part of a distinctive formation in the Saint John area. They comprise the Kennebecasis Formation, named for the river where they are seen in outcrop. These are the oldest ‘cover rocks’ in the park, meaning they lie on top of the older geological terranes that amalgamated by the process of plate tectonics. The red Devonian age rocks are about 370 million years old.

Rivers of Rock

Kennebecasis Formation rocks might be described as ‘Rivers of Rock’ since they are layers of sediment that accumulated in riverbeds. The sand, mud and boulders were once sweeping down fast flowing rivers, eroding the mountains that had been created as the older terranes collided. Spectacular examples of these Devonian rocks can be seen around the north end of Saint John in Millidgeville and near UNBSJ. The Memramcook Formation seen further east near Hampton is a related formation and formed in a similar environment.

The Age of Fishes

The Devonian Period of geologic time is often called ‘The Age of Fishes’. During this Period many of the groups of fish we now know flourished. Some of the dominant fish of the Devonian also became extinct. Bony fish and sharks evolved rapidly during this time and are still here today. Acanthodians, placoderms, cephalaspids, thelodonts and others are gone. The Devonian is also the time that animals called tetrapods evolved. A tetrapod is an animal with four legs (or two legs and two arms in our case). A fossil fish often found with Devonian tetrapod fossils is the lobefin fish Holoptychius. Recently a fossil of this fish was found in the Kennebecasis Formation not far from Tucker Park. The scales and jaw are distinctive and indicate that these rocks are most likely Devonian age, a support the idea these are freshwater, or non-marine sediments.

Access:
Access:
Disabled Friendly:
Hours:
Dawn Till Dusk
Location:
Address:
Kennebecasis Drive
Saint John, New Brunswick
Canada
GPS:
45.3113292, -66.0987850
Phone:

Uptown Saint John

Rocks

Uptown Saint John is built mostly on Cambrian rocks of the Saint John Group first described in detail in the 1880s by local geologist George Matthew. At the south end of the Uptown peninsula there are volcanic rocks of the Precambrian to Cambrian age (Taylors Island Formation), and Upper Carboniferous rocks of the Lancaster Formation along the shore. Outcrops can be seen scattered around the Uptown area, below buildings and along sidewalks. Saint John Group rocks are visible on Canterbury Street near the corner of Princess Street, or behind the Courthouse east of Kings Square.

Rocks and Buildings

Uptown Saint John provides other opportunities to explore geology. Many of the older buildings are built of New Brunswick stone. In particular, buildings constructed immediately after the Great Fire of 1877 are interesting. Fire destroyed about 1600 buildings south of King Street in June 1877. The city was quickly rebuilt, especially the commercial district along Prince William and King Streets. By this time the Province had a flourishing building stone industry and many new buildings in Saint John were constructed of sandstone from southeastern New Brunswick, granite from Hampstead and Charlotte County, and local marble.

Sandstone Sculpture

Be sure to look up when exploring the geology of Uptown Saint John. Many of the most interesting features are the sandstone carvings around windows and doorways. Sandstone is a relatively soft material and it was used extensively to create decorative elements on buildings. Try counting the animals on the Palantine Building on Prince William Street. Red and black ‘granite’ is much harder and was used to make colourful pillars. The St. George granite industry in Charlotte County had only just begun a few years before the Great Fire. You can sometimes tell pre- and post- fire buildings by the use of St. George granite.

Access:
Year Round
Access:
Disabled Friendly:
Hours:
24/7
Location:
Address:
GPS:
45.2734691, -66.0647683
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