>  Trip 2023   >  Tablelands

Western Brook Pond gets all the glory of the glamour shots in the Gros Morne tourist brochures, but the Tablelands is probably the more interesting geological feature. This is one of the few places on earth where the Earth’s mantle sits atop its crust (the other places are under water in Oman and the middle of the rainforest in Papua New Guinea — “this is the only one with a parking lot,” quipped our guide.)

The Tablelands is enough of a desolate wasteland that NASA tests out Mars-equipment here because it’s sufficiently similar, even down to the reddish hue of the barren rocks. If you walked the trail on your own, I think it might be so stark as to be underwhelming. But Parks Canada runs free guided tours for park visitors, and our guide was nothing short of brilliant. For over 90 minutes she had a group of 60-odd people totally enthralled with rock formations, plate tectonics, and carnivorous plants. It was a wonderful education in the very specific geology of this corner of the world, and a real highlight of our visit to Gros Morne.

The Earth’s mantle got pushed above its crust when Gondwana collided with Laurentia millions of years ago.
Peridotite rocks in the Tablelands are rich in minerals, but they are too expensive to extract, which protected the Tablelands from mining prior to its achieving national park status.
Serpentinite rocks at the Tablelands
The Tableland’s rocks also make for extremely infertile ground. In just a few places, Juniper and alder have adapted to the harsh conditions by growing more like shrubbery than trees.
The large circle on the right is a 13-year old birch from central Newfoundland. The small disc on the left is a 98-year old juniper from the Tablelands — that’s how much of a struggle it is for things to grow out here.
Superstar guide Rebecca explains how pitcher plants capture their prey
Pitcher plants growing in the inhospitable terrain of the Tablelands
Jumping on the rocks at the end of the Tablelands Trail

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