Branch Cove Fossiliferous Rocks are located in the cliff and shore exposures starting from Branch Head at the south entrance of Branch Cove, and along the cliffs into Easter Cove, towards the more settled area of the Town of Branch. The municipal heritage designation includes the exposed cliff face and the shorelines beginning at the highwater mark at Branch’s boundary at Branch Head and ending with the locality of the fossiliferous rocks at the Easter Cove. The continuous area between these points encompasses geological layering and localities of fossiliferous rocks such as those at the Green Gulch, Wester Cove and is included in the designation.
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land
Branch Cove Fossiliferous Rocks have been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Branch because of their scientific value. The heritage value of the Branch Cove Fossiliferous Rocks Site resides in the scientific information it reveals. The site was first studied in 1959, and is of paleontological and geological interest. The fossiliferous rocks at Branch Cove were created by layers of sand, silt and mud deposits during the Cambrian Period of Earth history. These layers contain the fossilized skeletal remains of primitive animals that lived on the sea bed or swam the sea waters about 500 million years ago. These layers formed over hundreds of years, so that each layer contains a different selection of fossils, creating a record of the evolution of Cambrian animal life. The succession of fossiliferous rocks around Branch Cove is reportedly the only occurrence of this type in Newfoundland providing a complete record of the Cambrian Period. Although not as unique as once believed on a worldwide scale, this particular succession of fossiliferous rocks is still considered to be a major sequence of international importance. Source: Town of Branch Regular Council Meeting November 24, 2008.
Character Defining Elements
Those elements which contribute to the site’s scientific value including: -elements related to the life-forms and environments of the Cambrian Period, including the sequence of layering and contained fossils; -in-situ fossils; -and any existing off-site fossils or rock samples from the site.
The geological formation in which Branch Head, Easter Cove and Wester Cove are contained is known as the Chamberlain’s Brook Formation. The oldest rocks in Branch Cove occur in the base of the cliff in Easter Cove. One of the best places to view fossils in Branch Cove is close to the Green Gulch waterfall in Wester Cove. One type of fossil found at Branch Cove is a trilobite, an extinct marine arthropod. Terrence P. Fletcher’s article “Holaspid Variations in the Solenopleurid Trilobite Parasolenopleura Gregaria (Billings, 1865) from the Cambrian Period of Newfoundland” in Paleontology, volume 48, circa 2005, pages 1075-1089, includes a figure showing the cliffs where fossils have been identified at Branch Cove.
Location and History
Town of Branch
1959 - 1959