Joggins Fossil Cliffs

December 12, 2022

P9070408-Joggins Cliffs

Photographer: Rick Stankiewicz  
Summary Author: Rick Stankiewicz  

The seaside cliffs near Joggins, Nova Scotia are a mecca for anyone interested in fossils and are well worth the drive off the beaten path to this small community in western Cumberland County. The above photo is a section of this incredible 9 mile (15 km) stretch of shoreline along the Bay of Fundy.

Joggins is famous for its rich fossil record going back more than 310 million years to the Pennsylvanian “Coal Age” of the Late Carboniferous Period. During this time Nova Scotia was covered by a tropical rainforest to which the fossil record attests. As early as 1871, the fossils from Joggins were considered the finest in the world from this Period. In 2008 the Joggins Fossil Cliffs were designated a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site.

When I visited this site with my wife in 2016, I was captivated by the content of the displays at the “Joggins Fossil Centre”, which does an admirable job of illustrating the geology and history of this unique landscape and the fossil record it both preserves and exposes for discovery. Though not legal to “collect” at this site, a guided tour will show fossilized specimens that have literally fallen from the cliff-face to the shoreline below. With the highest tides in the world, nature is exposing the fossil record on a daily basis.


One interesting example I witnessed on my tour was a plate-sized example of “ripples”, from an ancient waterbed that had been fossilized and now lay on the shore near the base of the cliffs (above). Our guide picked it up to explain its significance to our group. I personally found segments of plant stems both on the shore, amongst the rubble and embedded in the cliff-face (below). The specimen shown here is likely a section of a tree sized relative (Calamites) of today’s smaller, reedy horsetail rushes. Photos taken on September 7, 2016.

P9070398-Plant Stem

Photo details: Olympus TG-860 camera; f/6; ISO 125; 1/500th second exposure.

Fossil Cliffs, Nova Scotia, Canada Coordinates:  45.694515 -64.449432

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Jurassic Limestone Cliffs

Joggins Cliffs, Nov Scotia