IATNL Planning Geopark in Newfoundland

The International Appalachian Trail Newfoundland & Labrador has taken a page from the IAT Europe playbook with plans to establish a Global Geopark, spanning the Bay of Islands Ophiolites from Lewis Hills to Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park.  Other stakeholders include Western Newfoundland Destination Management Organization (Go Western), Corner Brook Pulp & Paper Ltd, and all towns in the Bay of Islands and western side of Gros Morne National Park.

But what you ask is a Global Geopark? It is an area recognized by the UNESCO supported Global Network of National Geoparks to have exceptional geological heritage. This simply means that the area has a natural landscape that is good for education, has a significant scientific value, is particularly rare, or is simply beautiful to look at. But Geoparks aren’t just about geology. They also take in sites with interesting history and archaeology, wildlife and habitats, folklore and culture, all of which are intricately linked with the underlying geology.

In Europe, the International Appalachian Trail traverses 8 Geoparks, including North West Highlands and Lochaber Geoparks in Scotland, North Pennines and English Riviera Geoparks in England, Geo Mon and Forest Fawr Geoparks in Wales, Villuercas Ibores Jara Geopark in Spain, and Naturtejo Geopark in Portugal.  In Western Newfoundland, the proposed Geopark will span the "Bay of Islands Ophiolites".  These large tectonic mesas form a series of ophiolite complexes of mafic and ultramafic rock high in magnesium and iron.  The mafic are composed largely of gabbro and derive from the earth’s oceanic crust, while the ultramafic are composed mostly of peridotite, and come from the earth’s mantle below.  Both heaved to the surface during tectonic collisions 100’s of millions of years ago, and are some of the best examples on the planet.

Cabox Geopark Poster approved for presentation at the 6th International UNESCO Conference of Global Geoparks in Saint John, New Brunswick, September 19-24, 2014 (Click to Enlarge)