Day 12 |
Sep 19, 2013

Gros Morne National Park, Canada

By Stefan Kredel, Geologist

Co-ordinates: N 49º30', W 57º54'
Weather: partly cloudy, mainly sunny
Air Temperature: 13.7ºC, 57ºF
Pressure: 1009 hPa
Wind: 12 knots

The day has come! The only (maybe for some better to say: the main) reason to do this whole trip - Gros Morne National Park! Today I was able to join an excursion to one of the geological highlights of North America. From a scientific point of view it is for sure within the top 5!

But anyhow, in the morning I had to have a bit more patience as we had a morning at sea. So after my Early Riser’s Breakfast in the Observation Lounge, with the same few guests as usual, I changed the bulletin board. I took all the Vikings off, and exchanged their space for information about the Gros Morne National Park.

At 10:00, Franz presented a talk entitled “Birds and climate change”. He focused on the ways in which birds adapt to a new climate situation. Some birds seem to have an advantage due to a longer breeding season, while other birds are losing their breeding areas. This provoked an open discussion.

While lunch was served we sailed into Bonne Bay where the Captain anchored Silver Explorer right between Woody Point, today’s landing site, and Norris Point, tomorrow’s landing site.

I went out with the scout boat and met guides and others I knew from 2 years ago when I was here last.

First, the hikers were disembarked. Their plan was to go to the so called “Lookout Hill”. I have done the hike in the past, and it is a nice hike with some spectacular views over Bonne Bay, the Tablelands, and many other parts of the National Park.

I didn’t join the walk as I wanted to go back to the Tablelands, and as the only geologist on the Expedition Team, that’s where I should be anyhow.

Gros Morne National Park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 because of its superbly exposed complete ophiolite stratigraphic sequence. So what is an ophiolite? An ophiolite is a section of the Earth's oceanic crust and the underlying upper mantle that has been uplifted and exposed above sea level and often emplaced onto continental crustal rocks.

The Tablelands is the most important geological feature within the National Park. Here the upper mantle is exposed on the Earth’s surface. You can walk on something that is usually at least a couple of kilometres far under the surface!

The peridotite, the name of the dominant rock here, is usually rather dark, but due to weathering the whole slope has a yellow–brown colour. As the rock has a rather higher amount of Chromium, Nickel and Iron, there are no plants. The most common plants in the area don’t tolerate those elements at a higher concentration.

I walked with most of our guests to the end of a small trail where you have a superb view “into the mantle” as a small canyon opened there. But even at the parking place of our bus you were straight on the mantle.

I stayed with the second group at the Tablelands, while the other group went to the Discovery Centre, where the other group went first.

Once back onboard, there was not much time left to get changed. As we will stay here overnight for tomorrow’s activities, Kara had organized a local band to play some typical Newfoundland songs. They managed to create a great atmosphere in the Theatre, and they even got some guests to sing with them!

What a finale to a great day!