The Tablelands & Gros Morne – a Unesco World Heritage Site

An hour and a half drive outside of Corner Brook on the western coast of Newfoundland, you will see the famous Tablelands, between Trout River and Woody Point in Gros Morne National Park. 

Tourists, Newfoundlanders, and especially geologists, love the Tablelands.

The United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Gros Morne a World Heritage Site in 1987 for its “exceptional natural beauty,” and for the demonstrations of plate tectonics which are “outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history.”

The Tablelands look unlike any other part of Newfoundland… in fact, at first blush, the colour and landscape makes  you think you’ve walked into an Arizona desert. But pay closer attention…

As a Parks Canada interpretation bulletin notes, “the tablelands and rocks around Trout River Pond are a slice of ancient ocean floor. The orange-brown rock, called peridotite, is one of the best and most accessible examples of exposed mantle material in the world.”

Peridotite is part of the earth’s mantle, forced up from the depths during a plate collision several hundred million years ago.

Peridotite looks barren. It doesn’t have the usual nutrients to sustain most plant life, and it’s low in calcium, high in magnesium, and has toxic amounts of heavy metals. In fact, on one side of the highway, you see the orange-brown colour from the iron, and on the other side, lush greenery. It’s startling.

You can hike the trails through the mountains, explore on your own, or meet with a park interpreter for explanations on the landscape to you.  Well worth checking out.

Course, a drive to Trout River is certainly worthwhile as well –

beautiul scenery,

terrific seafood,

and a wonderful little community.

See for more info (material drawn from their interpretive bulletin on Gros Morne National Park.)