Great Canadian Parks / Québec

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The Parks / Québec / Mingan Archipelago National Park



 

The most extraordinary feature of the islands is their dramatic topography. Limestone- based, unlike the exposed Canadian Shield of the mainland, the bedrock has undergone repeated cycles of lifting and submersion, with the latest rising-up occurring at the end of the last glaciation. During the last major ice age, 20 000 years ago, the Mingan Archipelago was covered by 2.5 kilometres of ice. As the glaciers began to melt, the ocean level rose covering the islands with 85 metres of water. Very slowly the islands lifted until about 7000 years ago when they broke the surface. With the shifting of the earth's crust, the limestone bedrock which came to the surface as a huge plateau soon eroded to form splits and cracks. Further water erosion split up these rocks to form the archipelago. On the south side of the islands is a complex network of arches and grottoes that contain a rare collection of fossil remains of over 200 marine organisms, a treasure trove of major scientific significance. Here is also found the largest concentration of monoliths, or sea stacks, in Canada. Created from friable rock more than 450 million years old, they are still being eroded by waves, changing sea level, wind and severe weather. The north side of the islands is characterized by about 45 kilometres of cliffs rising to a maximum of 15 metres reminiscent of arctic landforms, while the interiors support boreal forest on their gently inclined slopes.

 

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