Tourists, Newfoundlanders, and especially geologists, love the Tablelands.
The United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Gros Morne a World Heritage Site in 1987 for its “exceptional natural beauty,” and for the demonstrations of plate tectonics which are “outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history.”
The Tablelands look unlike any other part of Newfoundland… in fact, at first blush, the colour and landscape makes you think you’ve walked into an Arizona desert. But pay closer attention…
As a Parks Canada interpretation bulletin notes, “the tablelands and rocks around Trout River Pond are a slice of ancient ocean floor. The orange-brown rock, called peridotite, is one of the best and most accessible examples of exposed mantle material in the world.”
Peridotite looks barren. It doesn’t have the usual nutrients to sustain most plant life, and it’s low in calcium, high in magnesium, and has toxic amounts of heavy metals. In fact, on one side of the highway, you see the orange-brown colour from the iron, and on the other side, lush greenery. It’s startling.
You can hike the trails through the mountains, explore on your own, or meet with a park interpreter for explanations on the landscape to you. Well worth checking out.
Course, a drive to Trout River is certainly worthwhile as well –
and a wonderful little community.
See www.parkscanada.gc.ca for more info (material drawn from their interpretive bulletin on Gros Morne National Park.)