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The Ordovician in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Ordovician in Newfoundland and Labrador map

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Ordovician Fossils
Fossil photos from Ordovician in Newfoundland and Labrador

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Paleontology and geology

Labrador was part of the continent of Laurentia during the Ordovician. It was above sea level and exposed to erosion, so there are no deposits of this age on the peninsula. In Newfoundland, however, Ordovician rocks are common, and they represent deposits that formed in many different environments off the coasts of two continents. In the Early Ordovician, Western Newfoundland was covered by a warm, shallow shelf, and it accumulated the sediments eroding off Labrador. These sandstones, shales, and limestones show us that a diverse community lived in these waters, including trilobites, brachiopods, gastropods, graptoliltes, cephalopods, ostracods, sponges, and crinoids. Rocks in eastern Newfoundland were deposited in deltas and coastal waters off Gondwana. These sandstones and shales preserve world famous trace fossils, as well as fossils of other marine invertebrates.

In the Middle Ordovician, subduction began to close the ocean that separated Laurentia and Gondwana. As the oceanic plate was pulled under the continental plates, deeper basins replaced the shallow continental shelves and volcanic island arcs formed off the coasts of both continents. In western Newfoundland, conglomerates and shales that formed in these deeper, cooler waters preserve abundant graptolite fossils. They are more similar to graptolites in Europe than in North America, and they may have moved in as the environment changed. Huge slabs of oceanic crust were pushed up onto the continent and are now exposed in the west, and igneous rocks in central Newfoundland preserve parts of the island arcs.

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