Welcome to SNOLAB

SNOLAB is an underground science laboratory specializing in neutrino and dark matter physics. Situated two km below the surface in the Vale Creighton Mine located near Sudbury Ontario Canada, SNOLAB is an expansion of the existing facilities constructed for the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) solar neutrino experiment.

More . . .

ABEC annual picnic 2014
The Story in Stone

The rocks of Gros Morne National Park and adjacent parts of western Newfoundland are world-renowned for the light they shed on the geological evolution of ancient mountain belts. The geology of the park illustrates the concept of plate tectonics, one of the most important ideas in modern science.

This is one of the main reasons why Gros Morne National Park has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization).

Tablelands, Trout River Pond, GMNP © Parks Canada / Greg Horne / 1172-082, G1-113

To see maps of Gros Morne's bedrock and surficial geology, visit Janet McNaughton's website and click on Gros Morne Atlas, found on the right under Interactives.
An Ancient Mountain Range and A New Ocean
Around 1,200 million years ago, in the Precambrian era, the ancient core of what is now eastern North America collided slowly with another continent to form a vast mountain range.

All that remains today are the deeply eroded granites and gneisses of the Long Range Mountains. In late Precambrian time, the supercontinent began to break apart. As it split, steep fractures formed and filled with molten rock from below. This magma cooled into the diabase dykes seen in the cliffs of Western Brook Pond and Ten Mile Pond.

By 570 million years ago the continent finally rifted apart, and the resulting basin became an ocean called the Iapetus Ocean. Some
of the rocks of Gros Morne National Park were part of the continental margin on the western side of this new ocean, south of the Equator.

Granites on the Long Range mountains, Western Brook, GMNP © Parks Canada / Jeff Anderson / R3-130, 1584-046

Over the next 100 million years, during the Cambrian and Ordovician periods, ancient North America and what is now Gros Morne National Park drifted northward. Sediment eroding from the North American continent washed into the Iapetus Ocean and accumulated offshore as a broad continental shelf.
The first sediments were sands and silts deposited in shallow water. These sediments are now the quartzites that cap Gros Morne Mountain and directly overlie the ancient granites and gneisses. Sediment supply decreased, and carbonate banks flourished in the shallow tropical waters as the calcareous remains of snails, brachiopods, trilobites and algal mats accumulated. These remains of ancient organisms form the park's extensive sequences of limestone and dolomite.
Near the edge of this ancient tropical shelf, currents caused some sediment to be deposited into deeper water as debris flows. This material washed down the continental slope and formed coarse sandstone. Occasionally, overloading, by earthquakes or by storms triggered submarine landslides. These landslides toppled thousands of tonnes of limestone from the edge of the continental shelf and deposited the rubble on the continental slope. Eventually this rubble cemented together to form limestone breccia (a type of conglomerate) and shales.

Ocean Crust Continues to Form

About 500 million years ago the Iapetus Ocean began to close along a subduction zone far to the east. There, the edge of one oceanic plate was drawn down beneath another. Some of this oceanic crust became trapped within the subduction zone where it was deformed and metamorphosed.
As the Iapetus Ocean closed, new oceanic crust developed when magma from the Earth's mantle welled upwards to form peridotite and dunite followed by gabbro. The transitional contact zone between them represents the base of the ancient ocean crust. Western Newfoundland is one of the few places on Earth where this boundary, the Mohorovicic Discontinuity, and the upper mantle can be studied directly.
Above the crust-mantle boundary are several layers of oceanic crust. The lowermost layer is gabbro, but not all of the molten rock cooled into gabbro. Some was forced upward where it filled steep, parallel cracks and became "sheeted dykes" of diabase and fed lava flows that cooled on the ocean floor as pillow basalt.
Although these dykes are similar in composition to those that cut the Precambrian rocks, they are much younger. Together this sequence of peridotite, gabbro, sheeted dykes, and pillow basalt is known as an ophiolite, and represents a complete slice of the Iapetus sea-floor.

The Human History Behind Gros Morne National Park

For almost five thousand years, people have lived along the northern coast of Newfoundland. Cultures have come and gone, but always their lifestyle was focused on the sea; their lives depended on its bounty.
Earlier Cultures
Maritime Archaic Indians who crossed over from Labrador first settled this land some 5,000 years ago. The earliest evidence for their fully maritime lifestyle comes from L'Anse Amour in southern Labrador, which is also the site of the oldest known burial mound in the Americas. The major Maritime Archaic site discovered so far in Newfoundland is at Port au Choix, 160 kilometres north of Gros Morne National Park. To learn more about the Maritime Archaic Indians visit the Port au Choix National Historic Site.


For over 5500 years, this small peninsula on Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula has been the crossroads of various native North American and European cultures. The area's rich marine resources, and to a lesser extent the forests, wild game and abundant berries, have drawn these people to the shores of Port au Choix. The people who occupied this site connect the area southwards to Maine, northwards to Greenland, as far west as the Canadian Arctic, and of course eastward to Europe.
The remains of these many cultures have been preserved at Port au Choix, thanks to the limestone bedrock of the area. The soils are alkaline rather than acidic and many artifacts have survived, including those of bone and ivory.
Over the past century various archaeologists have excavated many sites in the Port au Choix area. Through their work, we now have a better understanding of the many people who called this site home.

The People of Port au Choix


Dates of Occupation from Island of Newfoundland

Dates of Occupation from Port au Choix

Maritime Archaic Indians

5500-3200 B.P.

5500-3200 B.P.

Groswater Paleoeskimo*

2800-1900 B.P.

2800-1900 B.P.

Dorset Paleoeskimo*

2000-1100 B.P.

1900-1300 B.P.

Recent Indians:
1. Cow Head Complex
2. Beaches Complex
3. Little Passage Complex

2000-800 B.P.

2000-800 B.P.
2000-1400 B.P.
1400-1100 B.P.
1100-800 B.P.

1. Viking
2. Basque
3. French
4. English

ca. 1000 A.D.
ca. 1500-1700 A.D.
ca. 1600-1904 A.D.
ca. 1700 - A.D.

ca. 1600-1700 A.D.
ca. 1709-1904 A.D.
ca. 1700 - A.D.

*  The name "Paleoeskimo" refers to groups of native peoples who inhabited the Eastern Arctic from approximately from 900 to 4000 years ago. The term Paleoeskimos is used to distinguish these groups from the modern Inuit, who are not their direct descendants. Remains of palaeoeskimo settlement have been found from Greenland and Ellesmere Island in the high arctic, to the shores of Hudson Bay and Labrador, and as far south as the island of Newfoundland.


Copyright © ABEC 2019. All rights reserved. Legal Notices