Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne National Park
Natural Canada Europe And North America Provinces Of Newfoundland And Labrador

Located on the western shore of the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, the park provides a rare example of the process of continental drift, where deep ocean crust and the rocks of the Earth's mantle lie exposed. More recent glacial action has resulted in some spectacular scenery, with coastal lowland, alpine plateau, fjords, glacial valleys, sheer cliffs, waterfalls and many pristine lakes.

The park comprises part of the Long Range Mountains on the Gulf of St Lawrence. The park includes coastal lowlands and an alpine plateau. The marine areas included in the park covers the inner portion of St Paul's Inlet, intertidal zones and estuaries. The shoreline features beaches, steep cliffs, and dune formations up to 30 m in height.

An upland alpine plateau with perched lakes, bare rock and valleys, covers a large proportion of the eastern central park. The serpentine hills in the south-west comprise ultra-basic igneous rocks, which, due to high heavy metal content, inhibit most plant life. A number of steep sided, glacial valleys cut through the Long Range scarp face, forming deep, oligotrophic fjords, with vertical cliffs up to 685 m high. A number of waterfalls are fed in the summer by snow-melt at higher altitudes.

The park is geologically diverse with areas of Ordovician sedimentary rocks, Precambrian granite and gneiss, Palaeozoic serpentinized ultra-basic rocks, gabbros, volcanic and Lower Palaeozoic sedimentary rocks. Exposed oceanic crust, mantle, a section of ancient Mohorovicic discontinuity, and other distinctive geological features are also found. There is also an unusually complete palaeotological sequence which has been proposed as the world stratotype for the Cambrian-Ordovician boundary.

There are up to 36 distinct vegetation types and communities, with some vascular species and bryophytes, representing about 60% of Newfoundland's insular flora.

The coast includes typical shoreline communities, active dunes with white spruce, and cliffs with prostrate spruce and balsam fir. The coastal plain further inland has a number of plant communities including a mosaic of sedges in meadows with American larch scrub. Black spruce dominates wet, oligotrophic sites and balsam fir is found in more protected and mesic areas. Tundra vegetation has developed on the plateau above this and varies from small areas of coniferous forest and stunted forest to bare rock.

Faunal diversity resembles an oceanic rather than continental-shelf island and is markedly reduced compared with the mainland. However a number of species scarce in Canada are found, including lynx, caribou and arctic hare. The more common marine mammals that can be observed from the park, albeit with a diminishing frequency in recent years include pilot, minke and finback whales and harbour seals.

The avifauna comprises arctic, boreal and pelagic species, with strays from mainland, the north-west Atlantic and Europe. The park is a significant breeding site for harlequin duck, blackpoll warbler, common tern and arctic tern, a nesting site for bald eagle, rock ptarmigan and American tree sparrow, and a stopover for migrating shore birds.

Anadromous Atlantic salmon and arctic char are found in park waters and also in permanent freshwater form in certain landlocked lakes on the Long Range Mountains.

There are a number of archaeological sites in the park and human habitation can be traced back to the Maritime Archaic Indians (4,500-3,000 years ago) and the Dorset Eskimos (1,800-1,200 years ago). Europeans settled the area from the late 18th century.