Hurricane Irene came to the Maritimes as a downgraded tropical storm. Strong winds and lots of rain were forcast but in the end it wasn't as dire as the weather forecasters thought it would be. Knowing that accompanying strong winds and rain, was the inevitable process of extreme erosion due to strong forces. With that in mind, I thought immediately of the cliffs at Joggins.
I couldn't go the day after the storm had done its thing, but I had the Wednesday off, a couple of days after the storm had gone through. The tides would have been low extremely early in the morning, so I decided to leave Moncton at around 6 AM. As soon as I arrived to my destination, the Sun was just peaking out to greet me.
My favorite spot in the Joggins area to search the cliffs is from Lower Cove Road. I take the path down the little bridge that crosses Little River and walk South towards the cliffs. From the bridge its about 100 meters more or less before you reach the first cliffs.
Water receeding as the tide is getting close to its low point.
The rain from Irene did a good number on the cliffs. The rain had battered the cliffs and the loose sediment had started to come down. When I walked near the cliffs, I could see huge piles of loose till and mud at their base. The cliffs had also started to show signs where water had run off and where blocks of sandstone of various size had slid down, leaving drag marks on the soft and wet sediment.
Stigmaria (tree root fossil) with rootlets spreading vertically outward
Cast of a tree with visible features
Although some of those trees might have already been exposed, the rain helped make them prop out of the cliff. The tree specimen on the far right is a good sample that could be identified and studied for possible bone fragments within its core.
[coin added for proportion, bottom left]
[coin added for proportion, bottom left]
[coin added for proportion, center]
This tree like I mentionned before could yield tiny animal bones. When the conditions are right, small animals would seek refuge in hollowed out trees. Trees in the Carboniferous period weren't the same as the trees we know of today, but were more common to club mosses. Their center were more of a fleshy pit and these would create cavities that animals could use as shelter, as do small animals do today. Dawson thought that, when he first found small animal bones in these trees, that they had fallen to their death or such similar situation, but today the feeling is that it could have been a circumstance of immediate environment (ie. forest fire, suffocating, extreme undesirable environment toxic and deadly to the animal, etc).
Bark possibly from Sigillaria tree
The layer of coal can be seen here, showing its shinny underside due to the erosion mostly caused by rain. Littered on the beach were blocks of coal that had broken off from veins similar to this, due to lack of support from the loose sediment that held them in place.
Tree section [coin added for proportion]
Tree sections, foreground and centered on each side [coin added for proportion]
This tree cast is possibly what had held most of the tree segments found littered close to that location. The features that suggest size had been weathered but still offer an idea of its girth (diameter). The roots extending from the bottom of this tree are nice as they offer features in situ that are identifiable. The coin was added for size proportion.
[coin added for proportion]
Trees can be quite big (fraction of what they would have been alive)
This was an interesting find. Laying on the beach I found what I first thought were chopped wood. At closer inspection, come to find out it was a section of a fossilized tree! The colors kinda threw me off from afar. Picking them up to check their weight, they were definitly heavy to lift.
This might have been my last visit to that section of the cliffs for this year. There's still another section south of here along Shulie Road by the old tracks that I didn't get to check for quite a while, and curious to see if there's anything actually exposed at those cliffs. There might be a future visit soon to this site if we can get an Heritage Permit to extract one of the tree segments to study it for bone fragments, if they bare any at all. If that happens, I will keep you guys posted.
Till then, cheers!