Geology & Fossils

Tablelands, Gros Morne National Park
Johnson Geo Centre
Exploring Fossils at Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve

Travel Back in Time

Newfoundland and Labrador is home to some of the oldest rocks in the world, and its unique geological landscapes attract scientists and rockhounds from across the globe. These ancient treasures provide an incredible chance to go back in time and interact with rocks that date back to billions of years ago. Whether it's ocean floors that surged up due to continental collisions, or coming face-to-face with astonishing evidence of early life on the planet, the province's rocks are a unique chance to witness our planet's history.

Though there are far too many to name, Newfoundland and Labrador's staggering geology offers something for everyone. First, travel deep underground to learn Planet Earth's story from its very core at the Johnson GEO CENTRE. Get to know the volcanoes, earthquakes and natural forces that shaped our world from beneath its surface at this impressive geology centre, 85% of which lies underground and carved into half-billion-year-old rock.

Take the ferry to Bell Island and descend into an iron ore mine that operated from 1896 to 1966. The guided tour begins in the Bell Island Community Museum and will lead you straight down into what was once the world’s largest submarine iron ore mine. Learn about the antique tools of the mining trade and discover what it was like to have worked underground.

Walk on water at Gros Morne National Park, where a 1.2-billion-year-old ocean floor emerged when the continents collided during their drift. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to a section of the ancient Appalachians known as the Long Range Mountains, which stretch the entire length of Newfoundland's west coast.

The barren Tablelands also tower over Gros Morne National Park, looking more like a scorched desert than a traditional Newfoundland landscape. This timeworn outcrop – an ultramafic rock known as peridotite – was forced up from the Earth's depths during a plate collision millions of years ago.

Witness 80% of our planet's geologic history from a single breathtaking view at Torngat Mountains National Park. In just one landscape, you can observe towering mountains, coastal cliffs, vegetated covers, deeply incised fjords and sheer cliffs that cut out perpendicularly from the rock's fabric.

Come face-to-face with some of the earliest evidence of life on the planet at Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve , a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Embedded in Mistaken Point's tilted and cleaved landscape, trapped in ancient volcanic ash, you will find the world's oldest complex multi-cellular fossils, which date as far back as 565 million years. These extraordinary impressions are the missing link that Darwin was looking for to perfect his theory of evolution. Mistaken Point is the only place in the world where you can see such an ancient, diverse community of deep-sea floor organisms conserved in place. The fossils have been immaculately preserved for study, but can only be viewed while on an official tour.

A journey to the Manuels River will expose you to the world of the curious and unusual trilobite, a marine invertebrate that thrived in these waters hundreds of millions of years ago. You can view trilobite fossils scattered along the shale beds of the river's lower section. There are a variety of specimens of these prehistoric creatures on display, as well as guides to take you through the historic fossil sites.

Shortly after trilobites began roaming the seas, marine animals began to use food more efficiently, resulting in a dramatic swelling in the richness and diversity called the "Cambrian explosion." Along the rugged cape of Fortune Head Ecological Reserve lie the fossils that mark this fundamental change in life on Earth. Visitors can witness fossils that provide some of the earliest evidence of skeletal organisms on the planet from superbly exposed low cliffs.

On the west coast of Newfoundland, along the path of the Vikings, Table Point Ecological Reserve protects fossils and rocks that have set the standard by which other rock sequences of its age are compared. Within its ancient limestone exposures, a collection of remarkable fossils help illustrate the environment and provide one of the world's most interesting rock sequences of its kind.

In Stephenville you’ll find the 305-million-year-old petrified remains of the first mountain trees that produced seeds.

You don't need to be a scientist or a rockhound to enjoy the timeless history of this beautiful land. Whether you want to walk on billion-year-old ocean floors, soak in breathtaking ancient landscapes formed by colliding continents or examine some of the earliest evidence of life on the planet, Newfoundland and Labrador's spectacular, ancient geology has something for everyone.

Helpful Links

Department of Natural Resources, Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Geology Information

Newfoundland and Labrador Travellers Guide to the Geology

Fossils of Newfoundland and Labrador

Geology Map of Newfoundland

Geology Map of Labrador

Starting at $1769 Per Person
Explore 9000 years of human history!

The rich and diverse human history of Newfoundland and Labrador is unlike anywhere else in the world. This self-drive tour will guide you to a series of Historic Sites and UNESCO World Heritage Sites representing all the cultures who have lived here – from the oldest known burial mound in North America to some of the earliest European settlements and industries in North America.

Observe archaeologists uncovering the past before your very eyes!

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Maxxim Vacations

Starting at $124.95 Per Person
Hop aboard and explore National Geographic's Top Coastal Destination! Sail into sea caves, past towering sea stacks and view a natural wave-powered geyser. Watch the largest population of Humpback whales, in their natural environment, up-close and personal. Show times and routines vary. This geological adventure will leave you breathless!

Package includes 90-minute tour and return shuttle service (pickup at hotels and B&B's in St. John's)

*Just 25 minutes from St. John's.

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O'Brien's Whale and Bird Tours

Free Offer
Pick up a fossil-exploring kit at the lighthouse before heading out to explore the fossil reefs at Point Amour. The reefs were created by sponge-like creatures called archaeocyathids and look like carefully laid cobblestones all along the shore. These reefs occur at only a few places in the world! The Point Amour fossil reefs were formed 530 million years ago and provide evidence that this region was once in a warm shallow sea near the equator. Watch your step – the rocks could be slippery.
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Point Amour Lighthouse Provincial Historic Site

Free Offer
Enjoy all that Newfoundland and Labrador nightlife has to offer - around a campfire!

On Thursday evenings here at Manuels River take in the beautiful scenery, experience the wildlife, meet some locals, roast some marshmallows, sing some tunes and watch the sun go down over a beautiful campfire. Our Campfire & Sing-Along happens every Thursday night over the summer, starting at 7pm, weather permitting. We’d love for you to join us!

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Manuels River

Starting at $174.50 Per Person
Set sail on an adventure to explore towering sea stacks, caves and a natural-wave powered geyser. Feel the spray from waterfalls before heading back to shore. Up-close and personal whale watching is a bonus.

Next travel deep underground for a guided tour to learn about our planet’s story from its very core at the GEO CENTRE. Take the rest of the day to tour exhibits, displays and trails.

Shuttle service (to and from boat tour), Boat tour, Box lunch, GEO CENTRE Day pass, Guided Tour, Gift.

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O'Brien's Whale and Bird Tours

Starting at $22 Per Person
Escape the trails and you can be one of the few who have enjoyed the stunning views of mountain and sea from above. Let us guide you off-trail for an amazing half-day hike in which you can enjoy the luxury of having a naturalist by your side. After all it's not every day that you get a chance to walk upon the Earth's mantle.
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Gros Morne National Park

Starting at $170 Per Person
Our tour travels up the coast of Bonavista Bay through the coastal fishing communities from Bonavista to Keels. Learn about the unique history and enriched culture of each coastal town along the way. While in Keels we will stop to explore some unique geological features such as the ‘Devil’s Footprints.” Ending the tour off with a hike to the light house, which provides access to spectacular coastal scenery and remarkable geological sequences such as the Crown Hill formation at Brook Point.
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Bonavista Adventure Tours


* Offers are subject to availability. Taxes are extra. You may have to pre-book and/or mention
the promotion at the time of booking. Please check with the operator for more details.

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