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Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site of Canada

Geology

Erratic in Kejimkujik Lake Erratic in Kejimkujik Lake
© Parks Canada/J. Brownlie

Kejimkujik is located on the Southern Upland Region of Nova Scotia. This area is a flat plain lacking the major escarpments, mountains and valleys found in other parts of the province. However, the park contains examples of many smaller surface features created during the last glacial stage.

Giant boulders, boulder fields, long winding eskers and drumlin hills are easily observed, while kames and outwash plains are less obvious and relatively inaccessible. Following glaciation, the formation of numerous shallow lakes, connected by wandering rivers, made southwestern Nova Scotia the best canoeing country in the province.

Bedrock

Slate bedrock Slate bedrock
© Parks Canada/P. Hope

Most of the more visible landforms seen in Kejimkujik are a direct result of the last glaciation, which started approximately 100,000 to 80,000 years ago. Drumlins, shallow lakes, streams, rivers and granite boulders are all the result of glacial action. This glacial action was greatly influenced by the bedrock beneath the ice sheets. Most glacial landforms are in areas with slate bedrock, as it is soft and easily eroded.

 



Granite bedrock Granite bedrock
© Parks Canada/P. Hope

The bedrock consists of Precambrian to Ordovician period quartzite and slate, plus Devonian period granite. All of these rocks, especially quartzite, have high silica content and provide scanty amounts of nutrients to the soils that develop on them. The slate, however, is fine-grained and produces a loamy soil which yields its nutrients more quickly than the stony sandy loams and loamy sands found over the coarse-grained rocks. Most of the slaty loams occur around Kejimkujik Lake. Deep outwash sands and gravels form a band west of the lake. Elsewhere the soil landscape is dominated by the cobbly, often shallow granite or quartzite material.

Glacial Features

Drumlins

View of Kejimkujik Lake showing drumlin View of Kejimkujik Lake showing drumlin
© Parks Canada/P. Hope

Drumlins are smooth, oval hills with a steeper, blunt end facing the oncoming glacier, and a gentle slope pointing in the direction of ice movement. The drumlins in Kejimkujik all trend southeastwards, indicating the direction of the strongest ice advance was from the northwest to the southeast. They were formed when a large accumulation of eroded material was deposited underneath the ice. The glacier then continued to move up and over this material, moulding it into the streamlined drumlin shape.

Erratics

Erratic in Kejimkujik Lake Erratic in Kejimkujik Lake
© Parks Canada/P. Hope

The gently rolling hills of Nova Scotia’s interior represents the Atlantic Coast Plain, a land of folded metamorphic rock, polished and grooved by retreating glaciers that exposed stony, shallow soil and left behind erratics - huge granite boulders carried by the migrating ice then strewn about as the ice melted. Many such ice-transported boulders are strewn throughout Kejimkujik. Look for them along lakesides and trails.

Eskers

Eskers are long, sinuous ridges formed by the deposition of material in an ice tunnel carved at the base of a glacier by meltwater streams. Long eskers occur along the northern margin of Kejimkujik and also along West River.

Lake Basins

Kejimkujik is underlain by two main types of rock; a granite terrane and a sedimentary terrane comprised of slate and quartzite. The granite landscape appears as a higher upland while the sedimentary areas are lower and more level. Glaciation has stripped away ancient soils and scooped out easily eroded bedrock to form lake basins. Today, the numerous lakes, their basins scooped out as the ice retreated, comprise about 15 percent of the area.