The Bay of Islands Igneous Complex forms prominent bluffs along the west coast of Newfoundland. Their deposits of chromite, asbestos, and base metals attracted the attention geologists long before Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949.
Some of the earliest work by the Geological Survey of Canada in the new province was a study of this complex by Charles Smith, who, in his 1958 report, described it as a series of local intrusions. As plate tectonics theory unfolded, however, several geoscientists including the Survey’s Ward Neale and Hank Williams helped unravel the special significance of the Bay of Islands complex. By the early 1970s, their combined efforts resulted in identifying and confirming the Bay of Islands Igneous Complex as the oldest known example of oceanic crust and upper mantle in North America.
In 1973, Gros Morne National Park was established in the area. In 1987, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site based on its unique geology. It provides a rare example of the process of plate tectonics where ancient deep ocean crust and the rocks of Earth's mantle are exposed. More recent glacial action has shaped its spectacular scenery.
Category: Science Advances