Monday, July 6, 2009

Our Travels to "The Rock"

David and Amy at Woody Point on Bonne Bay inside Gros Morne National Park Newfoundland
The Tablelands mountains in the distance - where the earth's mantle/crust is exposed

These pictures were taken a few days ago inside Gros Morne National Park on the western shore of Newfoundland. The geological makeup of this area is at times other worldly.

'The Rock' is an incredibly beautiful but rugged place. I'm amazed by how unfamiliar the rock formations here actually are. Here's a view of the exposed mantle which is so prevalent in The Tablelands area of Gros Morne park.

The orange rocks contain a black mineral called peridosite that apparently is known to exist only in the earth’s mantle or crust. But we have learned that many minerals can be found in Newfoundland. Virginite is available on the Baie Verte Penninsula.
my unknown green rocks
Yesterday I found an outcropping of this gorgeous green mineral along the sides of the TransCanada Highway. It might be serpentine but at this point I'm really not sure. It could also be Canadian Jade, or perhaps just more unakite.

Along the ocean I've found pretty unakite and red jasper specimens and marble and marble-like deposits are common. But I've been most intrigued by the lava, silica, grabbo, anorthocite, chert, granite etc. that is so unique and plentiful here. If you look closely you'll notice that these striated boulders along Newfoundland's west coast display molten rock patterns:
lava boulders along Newfoundland's west coast
I've yet to find any labradorite in its natural state. I'm told that native labradorite deposits near Nain on the northern Labrador mainland yield high grade specimens, but I'm not going there (well not on this trip anyway!).

But artisans and galleries of handmade art are everywhere. We're seeing tons of labradorite jewelry for sale too but I question how much of these gems were sourced in Canada. A few renowned inuit stone carvers in the Nain area have shipped their work here for retail sales at the gallery level.

Some Newfoundland galleries and jewelers do import small quantities of labradorite from Nain, Labrador for use in jewelry and carving but these instances are rare and the finished artwork is of gallery quality and price (not the commonly priced labradorite so plentiful and on display at all souvenir outlets).

There's a soapstone outcropping/mine up on the northern tip of the Baie Verte penninsula (Fleur de Lys) so hopefully we'll head that way tomorrow. The soapstone mine is now operated by the provincial and federal governments as a heritage site and apparently no hammering is allowed. We'll see :)

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