Thrombolites of Flowers Cove, Newfoundland

December 29, 2023

Fig.1-Thrombolite Colony-Flowers Cove NFLD

Fig.2-Using myself for scale of Thrombolite Colony segment

Photographer: Rick Stankiewicz; Valerie Stankiewicz
Summary Author: Rick Stankiewicz

Thrombolites means “clotted structure” and is what remains of colonies of unicellular cyanobacteria and algal organisms that were the predominant life forms between 3.5 billion and 650 million years ago (mya). They’re among the most primitive and earliest known forms of life on Earth. The top photo shows mounds of thrombolites at Flowers Cove, Newfoundland, Canada.

These Cambrian Period mounds have weathered out from the surrounding layers of dolomite rock (dolostone). It’s thought that the cracks radiating from the center and down the sides contain mud that’s filled what were once possible drainage channels. It’s also thought that these colonies flourished in the tidal zones of the warm and very salty Iapetus Ocean, which would explain the muddy depositions. Unlike stromatolites, these structures are clumped rather than layered, resulting in a bun-shaped or floral appearance.

The bottom photo is for scale purposes, with me standing beside an isolated portion of the larger colony. These structures aren't considered true fossils but are rather evidence of the past existence of these clustered microbial life forms. This site is not only interesting and incredibly ancient (650 mya), but also extremely rare geologically. There are few places on Earth where these structures are found. However, they can also be observed south of Perth, Western Australia, at Lake Clifton

Newfoundland is the newest Canadian province, having joined the “confederation” in 1947. It’s an amazing place to visit and is home to many unique sites both geologically, biologically and historically. Thrombolites are just one of the many treasures that await those willing and able to explore this island off Canada’s east coast. My wife and I finally had the opportunity to visit Canada’s tenth province in July of this year. It was worth the wait…a true Canadian gem. Photos taken on July 20, 2023.

Photo details: Nikon Coolpix P900 camera; ISO 100; f/2.8; 1/1600th second exposure.

Flowers Cove, Newfoundland, Canada Coordinates: 51.293800, -56.742689

Related Links:

Stromatolites in Glacier National Park