Virtual Museum of Canada

Miguasha : From water to land (The Miguasha National Park)

The birth of the Appalachians

How is it possible that fossilized sea animals, fish included, are found at the heart of the Chic Choc mountains in the Gaspé hinterland? The answer is that these fossils are dramatic proof the Earth’s surface underwent major changes in the distant past.Forillonaspismagnifying(112 kb) The fossil-bearing sedimentary rocks of the Gaspé region were deposited in an ancient marine environment before powerful forces raised them up from the watery depths to their present elevation. Fossiliferous marine sediments are even found high up on the world’s tallest mountain – Mount Everest in the Himalayas!

The birth of the Appalachians, and that of many other mountain chains, is caused by the movement of continental plates. When two plates collide, they push against each other and the resulting pressure buckles the crust or forces one plate beneath the other, uplifting the land and giving rise to a mountain chain.

The Appalachians were created in this manner when ancient continental masses collided. For a period of 150 million years, the part of Laurentia that now corresponds to northeastern North America gradually approached the continent of Baltica, present-day northwestern Europe, until they collided. The seafloor between them and any sediments being deposited along the ocean margins were folded and uplifted to form the Gaspesian segment of the Appalachians.

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The birth of the Appalachians
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Société des établissements de plein air du Québec (Sépaq) Parc national de Miguasha UNESCO World Heritage Centre

© Miguasha National Park 2007


Title: Forillonaspis
Author: Parc national de Miguasha
Sources: Parc national de Miguasha
Year: 2004

Thoracic plate from Forillonaspis, a fish with a Gaspesian name found in the heart of the Appalachians in the centre of the Gaspé Peninsula.