Day 11 |
Sep 13, 2011

Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, Canada 

By Juan Carlos Restrepo, Geologist

Co-ordinates: N 49º30’38”, W 057º53’10”
Weather: Sunny
Air Temperature: 12ºC
Pressure: 1008 hPa

Last night, after a long and rough day at sea, the Silver Explorer entered the calm waters of Bonne Bay on the southwest coast of Newfoundland en route to our anchor point for the next day’s activities at Gros Morne National Park.

Starting as the Gros Morne National Park Reserve in 1973, this Canadian jewel was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987 before its eventual status change in 2005 to a Canadian National Park. With its geological history and exceptional scenery, it was only a matter of time before both of these designations occurred.

Today we had a half-day visit to the tablelands. The weather could not have been any better, with sunny and blue skies and a very agreeable temperature. We disembarked our guests onto a jetty and then it was a short ride in three big yellow school buses to the Discovery Centre where we watched a nice video and enjoyed the interpretative displays.

We also tasted jams made from local berries and learnt a great deal about the park before we set out to see it in its full splendour with this magnificent weather. On our way to the tablelands we took a detour to see Trout River, a sleepy little fishing village nestled in a most scenic setting.

After this 20-minute stop we drove to the tablelands for the highlight of today, a walk onto the earth’s mantle! Not literally, but we did walk on rocks that 540 million years ago were part of the top layer of the mantle, just beneath the bottom section of the earth’s crust. These rocks were subsequently shoved up onto the continental margin of North America as ancient continents collided, forming the super continent of Pangaea.

There are few places where one can see mantle and oceanic crust rocks as we saw today in Gros Morne. Some of us went for a 4 km return hike and others did a shorter loop, but we all got to see what this world-renowned national park.

At 12:45 we were heading back to the Silver Explorer for lunch and with all back on board, Captain Alexander Golubev lifted the anchor and brought the Silver Explorer near woody point, so we could see from the ship this lovely lighthouse before we set course for the Magdalen Islands in Quebec.

In the afternoon Luciano Bernacchi gave a talk on tips for birding and presented some of the birds of the voyage, followed at 5:30 by a Recap & Briefing.

I feel so truly blessed to have experienced such stunning beauty and fascinating geology. A dream come true. For a geologist, Gros Morne National Park is one of those bucket list kind of places, and although I had been here before, I had not been to the tablelands, which hold the true secret behind the geological significance of this spectacular corner of Newfoundland.