Today, the Minas Basin in the Bay of Fundy holds the record for the highest tides in the world. Also, the oldest dinosaurs in Canada are found along the shores of the Minas Basin. But the history of the Bay of Fundy relates to the breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea 200 million years ago. The birth of the Bay of Fundy was earth shattering!
Sea level was lower 10,000 years ago than it is today. At that time the area covered by today’s Bay of Fundy was just a lowland terrain. Ocean water began flooding the Bay of Fundy area when sea level rose about 9000 years ago. Ever since then, the powerful tides have carved and eroded the shoreline. In some areas the tides continue to erode the shoreline cliffs as much as 50 cm (20 inches) per year!
Why was the Bay of Fundy a lowland area before it was flooded by ocean water? The answer is found in the rocks now exposed along the shoreline today. Many of these rocks are sandstone. Although now hard rock, sandstone was once just loose sand and pebbles that covered the ground and the bottom of rivers. These sandstones have been dated to be over 200 million years old. Two hundred million years ago, what is now rock, was just loose sand blowing in the wind.
Also among the sandstone rocks we can see today another very important detail. In many of the sandstone rocks you can see large faults. Faults are rips in the earth’s surface that were caused by massive earthquakes. Huge earthquakes shook the ground and tore faults in the earth. These faults caused large areas of ground to sink down into lowland areas called rift basins. The reason for the earthquakes was continental drift and the break-up of the supercontinent Pangaea.
Pangaea began to break apart 200 million years ago. The area that is now the Bay of Fundy was ripped apart and sank down to form a rift basin. Water from rivers carried sand and pebbles into the lowland area. Over millions of years the sand began to fill the rift basin and the sand eventually turned to sandstone. Sometimes, the sand would bury a dinosaur skeleton, and preserve it as a fossil. Today, researchers find these dinosaur bones, and study them as part of the Earthquake Dinosaurs projects.
A lowland area was formed 200 million years ago that would eventually become the Bay of Fundy. For millions of years this has been a very special place on earth. Join the discover and learn more about the Bay of Fundy.
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