With the collision of Gondwana and the combined North America-Europe, a pretty significant mountain range was formed. The deformation was mostly the Alleghenian Orogeny in eastern North America and the Variscan in southern Europe, and while it made some new mountains it probably rejuvenated some old mountains as well, including parts of the Caledonian mountain belt between Maritime Canada – Nova Scotia and Newfoundland – and Greenland on one side and the British Isles and Scandinavia on the other.
Within the mountain belts, quite a variety of environments formed, including extensive swampy basins in which abundant plant life lived, and died to make the coal that gives the Carboniferous its name. One such swampy basin was in what is now western Nova Scotia, where a low-lying area received sediments that became the Joggins Formation.
Photo of upright Pennsylvanian tree fossil in
Joggins Formation by Michael C. Rygel.
The package of rocks is one of the best examples of Pennsylvanian coal strata in the world. At least Charles Lyell thought so. Lyell was the author of the books entitled the Principles of Geology, which arguably made geology into a modern science, and Lyell wrote that these were the finest examples of coal-age rocks on earth.
The upright fossil trees at Joggins contain animal fossils as well, including the oldest known reptile. We’ll talk more about them in a couple days.
The fossiliferous cliffs at Joggins are a World Heritage Site, designated in 2008.
—Richard I. Gibson
Alluvial sedimentology and basin analysis of Carboniferous strata near Joggins, Nova Scotia, Atlantic Canada, by Michael C. Rygel, 2005
Five more articles
Historical perspective on the Joggins cliffs geology
Jogins Fossil Cliffs
Photo of upright Pennsylvanian tree fossil in Joggins Formation by Michael C. Rygel.