Joggins Fossil Cliffs – Where BnB Geologists Go

Bruce and Marian Langhus, July 5, 2019

Bruce and I are both geologists and Joggins Fossil Cliffs in Nova Scotia is our favorite place to explore. Only 2 hours and 20 minutes from Lang House in the Village of Gagetown, New Brunswick, Joggins is a special delight when the new or full moons give extra high (and low) tides in the Bay of Fundy. A visit along the cliffs there takes about two to three hours (if you are into seeing Carboniferous aged fossils.) I taught Historical Geology sixteen times and the diagrams that I used come back to me when I see the sights.

Charles Darwin did not visit Joggins but he used the writings of Sir Charles Lyell and Sir William Dawson in the preparation of writing Origin of Species in 1859. The diagram below is from Dawson Airbreathers of the Coal Period (1863) shows the hollowed out tree trunk similar to the stump that we examined. The earliest reptiles were discovered here in trunks of these trees from 300 million years ago! For more information, read https://jogginsfossilcliffs.net/cliffs/history/

For more information: Calder, J. H. (2006). “Coal Age Galapagos”: Joggins and the Lions of Nineteenth Century Geology. Atlantic Geology42(1). https://doi.org/10.4138/2155

When I took this picture of Bruce at the southerly-most end of our walk, I laughed at the face in the cliff and said how it reminded me of the diagram of James Hutton (Scottish Geologist 1726-1797) staring at his adversaries at the time. For more information about the Fathers of Geology and the time they spent at Joggins.

Fossils at Joggins hold many surprises, for example, the fossilized tree stump has a yellowish sheen of pyrite (fools gold!) The plant fossil shown on the railing was left there by a visitor who knows that it is wrong to remove fossils from the site. “Take only pictures!”

We leave the fossils on the beach for others to find and enjoy. Mostly the fossils are plant material but sometimes footprints and trails can be found as seen above.

We enjoy looking at the rocks exposed with the low tide.

Our trips to Joggins are some of my best memories.

The difference between high and low tide is quite significant. One time we went there only to find the beach entirely under water with waves crashing close to the base of the cliffs. On July 5, we experienced the low tide about one hour after the lowest low tide and were able to walk along the sea floor. The advancing tide was approaching fast as we climbed up the steep stairs to the parking lot.

Nothing like a trip to Joggins, Nova Scotia, to remind us about geologic time!

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