Click here to skip to the content


The coastline of New Brunswick’s north shore with the iconic lighthouse at Grande-Anse provides a spectacular example of the province’s Upper Carboniferous geology. The sandstone cliffs seem to run forever along the coast, the layers of rock seemingly flat-lying and unchanging. Above on the plateau the landscape is a reflection of the simple geology below. A closer inspection of the rocks shows a more complex structure however. The rock layers have a gentle slope and slowly each layer dips down to the sea. Individual layers may be thick or thin, sand or shale, barren or full of fossils. The Clifton Formation has yielded beautiful fossils of delicate leaves from seed ferns and giant horsetails. A practiced eye can pick out cross-bedded layers of sandstone or the path of an ancient river channel cut into the layers below. These thick layers of sedimentary rock generally lie undisturbed on the older geology below. Those older rocks were forged by the closing of oceans; folded, faulted and intruded by molten rock. By comparison the rocks of the Upper Carboniferous were laid down gently on top in rivers and lakes.