Million of years ago the remote Torngat Mountains, located on the eastern edge of the Canadian Shield, were as high as the Himalayas. Over time, these rocks have been worn down through many cycles of mountain building and eroding. . The Torngat area contains some of the oldest rocks on earth, that formed almost four billion years ago.

Geologists find a piece of beach from an ancient ocean floor that was pushed to the surface when the mountain range was born. Thin seams of pre-historic coal in the shale prove that there was primitive life on earth billions of years ago. And in this very isolated landscape, they find tools made from a type of rock called chert that was considered sacred by early man. Walking along the Torngats is like traveling back in time.

At the top of the highest peak of the Torngats, geologists collect what they have come to find: samples of zircon, a special mineral that records the age of ancient rock. Back at the lab, the crystals show that these ancient mountains formed 3.9 billions years ago – some 600 million years after planet Earth was formed.


  • The name Torngat is an Inuktitut word meaning spirits.
  • There are no trees to be found on the Torngats because the mountains are north of the Arctic tree line.

  • The Great Lakes
    Discover the roots of a long vanished mountain range, explore the remains of an inland tropical sea and trace the story of a dramatic flood
  • The Rockies
    An ever-changing landmass, geologists are learning how the Rockies were formed and discovering what they will become.
  • The Canadian Shield
    The largest - and one of the oldest - expanses of ancient rock on the planet has riches of gold and diamonds under it's crust.
  • The Appalachians
    These fabled mountains contain a geologic puzzle, a rich legacy, and the scarcely known threat of earthquakes.
  • The Atlantic Coast
    The dramatic story of volcanic outpourings, massive rifting of continents and the bursting forth of a new ocean - the Atlantic.

A five-part series that chronicles the incredible—and surprising—history of Canada's landscape in HD.

Canada Rocks Read an excerpt from Canada Rocks, a new book by the scientific advisor to Geologic Journey, Nick Eyles.

Watch video interviews with some of the scientists featured in Geologic Journey (produced in conjunction with National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada).

Order the Geologic Journey DVD for classroom use and download Teacher Resource Materials.
The Nature of Things with David Suzuki
Erosion: The displacement of solids (including rock) by ocean currents, wind, water, or ice by downward or down-slope movement in response to gravity. Zircon: A mineral that has an almost ubiquitous presence in the Earth’s crust. They survive erosion and can be dated using modern analytical techniques. They are crystals with a layered onion-like structure. Each layer forms would the surrounding rocks are heated almost to the melting point during the mountain-building process.