CBC Digital Archives

Joggins Fossil Cliffs: coal age capsule

Wonders of nature and marvels made by people stretch all across Canada. From a preserved Haida village in B.C. through Alberta's rich dinosaur fossil grounds to old Quebec City and a Viking settlement in Newfoundland, 15 remarkable Canadian places have been deemed World Heritage sites by the United Nations. CBC Digital Archives takes a tour of some of these internationally recognized national treasures.

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For centuries, the tides of the Bay of Fundy have been eroding the fossils along the Nova Scotia shore near the town of Joggins. Left behind are remnants of plants and animals dating back more than 300 million years. The cliffs are the best known record from Earth's coal age, when lush forest covered the region and much of the world's tropics. In this 2008 report from CBC-TV's The National, visitors arrive just days after the site was awarded a UNESCO World Heritage designation. The staff at Joggins reminds the tourists to leave the treasures where they found them: along the jagged grey cliffs.
• In July 2008, Joggins was named a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
  • On its website, UNESCO says it chose Joggins Cliffs "due to their wealth of fossils from the Carboniferous period (354 to 290 million years ago). The rocks of this site are considered to be iconic for this period of the history of Earth and are the world's thickest and most comprehensive record of the Pennsylvanian strata (dating back 318 to 303 million years) with the most complete known fossil record of terrestrial life from that time." Also, "With its 14.7 km of sea cliffs, low bluffs, rock platforms and beach," Joggins offers "148 species of fossils and 20 footprint groups."

• According to the Joggins official website, the site is preserved "in situ", which means in the original or natural place or site. The website states "At Joggins, 'Coal Age' trees stand where they grew, the footprints of creatures are frozen where they once walked, the dens of amphibians are preserved with remnants of their last meal, and the earliest reptiles remain entombed within once hollow trees."

• The Parks Canada website notes that twice daily, the world renowned Bay of Fundy tides (among the world's highest) "continually erode the cliff face and expose new fossil beds." Visitors to the site will note that when the tides are out, the ocean floor is completely exposed and appears as a vast panorama of mud.

• The Joggins site is also home to the Joggins Fossil Centre, a state-of-the-art interpretive centre that operates as a museum and research facility. The single-storey building uses the latest green technology. It won the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Architecture in 2007 and an International Green Apple Built Environment Award in 2010.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: July 18, 2008
Guest(s): Jenna Boone, Greg Perry
Reporter: Mellissa Fung
Duration: 2:22

Last updated: August 22, 2014

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

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