Labrador and the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland: Foreshore and Flanking Geomorphology

  • Norm CattoEmail author
Part of the World Geomorphological Landscapes book series (WGLC)


The coastline of Labrador and the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland displays a variety of marine, glacial, aeolian, karst, tectonic, and other geomorphic features. Structural geology and lithology underpin landscapes from Killiniq to the Strait of Belle Isle. In central and southern Labrador, extending to the northernmost Northern Peninsula, glacial features are related to MIS 2 Laurentide glaciation. Local glaciation influenced the distinctive landscapes of Torngat Mountains National Park, and Mealy Mountains (Akami-UapishkU; KakKasuak) National Park Reserve. Postglacial relative sea levels vary from less than 20 m to more than 170 m asl. Relative sea level history varies from falling through rising episodes, reflecting differing glaci-isostatic regimes. Currently, relative sea level is falling along Lake Melville, but rising in central and southern Labrador and along the Northern Peninsula. Since the initial occupation in the early Holocene, through indigenous settlement and Viking visits, to modern times, geomorphology has been a dominant influence on human activity along the coastline.


Labrador Northern Peninsula Torngat Mountains Mealy Mountains L’anse-aux-Meadows Coastal geomorphology Glacial landscapes 


  1. Anstey RJ, Guiry EJ, Renouf MAP, Deal M, Fuller BT (2016) Dating archaeobotanical remains: a cautionary tale from Port au Choix, Newfoundland. Veg Hist Archaeobot 25:75–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barrand NE, Way RG, Bell T, Sharp MJ (2017) Recent changes in area and thickness of Torngat Mountain glaciers (northern Labrador, Canada). Cryosphere 11:157–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bell T, Renouf MAP (2003) Prehistoric cultures, reconstructed coasts: Maritime Archaic Indian site distribution in Newfoundland. World Archaeol 35:350–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bell T, Macpherson JB, Renouf MAP (2003) “Wish you were here…” a thumbnail portrait of the Great Northern Peninsula Environment 1000 AD. In: Lewis-Simpson SM (ed) Vinland revisited: The Norse World at the turn of the first millennium. Selected Papers from the Viking Millennium International Symposium 15–24 September 2000, Newfoundland and Labrador. St. John’s, Newfoundland: Historic Sites Association of Newfoundland and LabradorGoogle Scholar
  5. Bell T, Smith IR, Renouf MAP (2005) Postglacial sea-level history and coastline change at Port au Choix, Great Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland. Newfoundland Labrador Stud 20:9–31Google Scholar
  6. Catto NR (2006) Impacts of climate change and variation on provincial parks, NL. Newfoundland and Labrador Ministry of Environment and Conservation, 160 pGoogle Scholar
  7. Catto NR, MacQuarrie K, Hermann M (2002) Geomorphic response to Late Holocene Climate variation and Anthropogenic pressure, northeastern Prince Edward Island, Canada. Quat Int 87:101–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clark PU (1988) Glacial geology of the Torngat Mountains, Labrador. Can J Earth Sci 25:1184–1198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Clark PU, Fitzhugh WW (1990) Late deglaciation of the Central Labrador coast and its implications for the Age of Glacial Lakes Naskaupi and McLean and for Prehistory. Quat Res 34:296–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Colman-Sadd SP, Hayes JP, Knight I (1990) Geology of the island of Newfoundland. Map 90-01, Geological survey branch, Department of Mines and Energy, Government of Newfoundland and LabradorGoogle Scholar
  11. COSEWIC (2000) Canadian species at risk, May 2000. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, 23 ppGoogle Scholar
  12. Couillard L, Grondin P, Pelletier D (1987) Les plantes rares de l‘Archipel de Mingan. Environment CanadaGoogle Scholar
  13. Daly JF, Belknap DF, Kelley JT, Bell T (2007) Late Holocene sea-level change around Newfoundland. Can J Earth Sci 44:1453–1465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Davis AM (1980) Modern pollen spectra from the tundra-boreal forest transition in northern Newfoundland, Canada. Boreas 9:89–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Davis AM (1984) Ombrotrophic peatlands in Newfoundland, Canada: their origins, development, and trans-Atlantic affinities. Chem Geol 44:287–309CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Davis AM (1985) Causes and character of paludification in Newfoundland. Can Geogr 29:361–384Google Scholar
  17. Dubé-Loubert H, Roy M, Schaefer JM, Clark PU (2018) 10Be dating of former glacial Lake Naskaupi (Québec-Labrador) and timing of its discharges during the last deglaciation. Quat Sci Rev 191:31–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dussault F, Bell TJ, Grimes V (2106) Archaeoentomological perspectives on dorset occupations in Newfoundland: a case study from the site of Phillip’s Garden (EeBi-1). Arctic 69:1–15Google Scholar
  19. Forbes DL, Taylor RB (1994) Ice in the shore zone and the geomorphology of cold coasts. Prog Phys Geog 18:59–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ford DC, Williams PW (1989) Karst geomorphology and hydrology. Unwin Hyman, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gower CF, Knight I, Perrault S (1997) Field guide to the geology of the Pinware terrane in southeasternmost Labrador and adjacent eastern Quebec. Newfoundland Department of Mines and EnergyGoogle Scholar
  22. Grant DR (1989) Quaternary geology of the Atlantic Appalachian region of Canada. In: Fulton RJ (ed) Quaternary Geology of Canada and Greenland. Geology of Canada Series, no. 1. Geological Survey of Canada, Ottawa, pp 393–440Google Scholar
  23. Grant DR (1992) Quaternary geology of St. Anthony—Blanc-Sablon area, Newfoundland and Quebec. Geological Survey of Canada Memoir 427Google Scholar
  24. Henderson EP (1968) Patterned ground in southeastern Newfoundland. Can J Earth Sci 5:1443–1453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Henningsmoen KE (1985) Pollen-analytical investigations of the L’Anse-aux-Meadows area. In: Ingstad AS (ed) The Norse Discovery of America, vol 1. Excavations of a Norse settlement at L’Anse-aux-Meadows, Newfoundland, 1961–1968. Universitetforlaget, Oslo, pp 309–362Google Scholar
  26. Hermanutz L, Mann H, Anions MF, Ballam D, Bell T, Brazil J, Djan-Chékar N, Gibbons G, Maunder J, Meades SJ, Nicholls W, Smith N, Yetman G (2002) National recovery plan for Long’s Braya (Braya longii Fernald) and Fernald’s Braya (Braya fernaldii Abbe). National recovery plan no. 23. Recovery of Nationally Endangered Wildlife (RENEW), Ottawa, Ontario, 33 ppGoogle Scholar
  27. Hicks D (1995) The morphology, composition, and characteristics of a coastal beach at Flower’s Cove, the Great Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland: a study of strandflat coasts. Honours BA thesis, Department of Geography, Memorial UniversityGoogle Scholar
  28. Holtedahl H (1998) The Norwegian Strandflat—a geomorphological puzzle. Nor Geol Tidsskr 78:47–66Google Scholar
  29. Klassen RA, Paradis S, Bolduc AM, Thomas RD (1992) Glacial landforms and deposits, Labrador (Newfoundland) and eastern Québec. Geological Survey of Canada Map 1814AGoogle Scholar
  30. Knight I (1977) Cambro-Ordovician platformal rocks of the Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland (NTS 12I/NW; 12P/NE, SE). Geological Survey Newfoundland and Labrador Report 77-06Google Scholar
  31. Knight I (1991) Geology of Cambro-Ordovician rocks in the Port Saunders (NTS 12I/11), Castors River (NTS 12I/5), St. John Island (NTS 12I/14), and Torrent River (NTS 12I/10) map areas. Geological Survey Newfoundland and Labrador Report 91-04Google Scholar
  32. Magnusson M, Palsson H (1982) The Vinland sagas—the Norse Discovery of America. Penguin Books, LondonGoogle Scholar
  33. McCuaig SJ (2002) Quaternary Geology of the Alexis River area, and the Blanc-Sablon to Mary’s Harbour road corridor, southern Labrador. Current Research, Newfoundland Department of Mines and Energy Geological Survey, Report 02-1Google Scholar
  34. McLeod BA, Brown MW, Moore MJ, Stevens W, Barkham SH, Barkham M, White BN (2008) Bowhead Whales, and not Right Whales, were the primary target of 16th- to 17th-century Basque Whalers in the Western North Atlantic. Arctic 6:61–75Google Scholar
  35. Narayanan S (1994) Current meter observations from Hamilton Bank and NE Newfoundland Shelf, 1990 to 1993. St. John’s, Newfoundland: Science Branch, Dept. of Fisheries and OceansGoogle Scholar
  36. Pienitz R, Lortie G, Allard M (1991) Isolation of Lacustrine Basins and Marine Regression in the Kuujjuaq Area, Northern Québec, as Inferred from Diatom Analysis. Géogr Phys Quat 45:155–174Google Scholar
  37. Renouf MAP (2011) The cultural landscapes of Port au Choix: Precontact hunter-gatherers of northwestern Newfoundland. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Renouf MAP, Bell T, Macpherson J (2009) Hunter-gatherer impact on subarctic vegetation: Amerindian and Palaeoeskimo Occupations of Port au Choix, Northwestern Newfoundland. Arctic Anthropol 46:176–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Smith IR, Bell T, Renouf MAP (2005) Testing a Proposed Late Holocene Sea-Level Oscillation using the ‘Isolation Basin’ Approach, Great Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland. Newfoundland Labrador Stud 20:33–55Google Scholar
  40. Stopp MP (2016) Across the straits from Port au Choix: Mobility, Connection, and the Dorset of Southern Labrador. Arctic 69(Supplement):1–10Google Scholar
  41. Taylor C (1994) The formation of soil- frost related patterns along the Hawke Hills. BSc thesis, Department of Geography, Memorial UniversityGoogle Scholar
  42. Vasseur L, Catto NR (2008) Atlantic Canada. In: Lemmen DS, Warren FJ, Lacroix J, Bush E (eds) From impacts to adaptation: Canada in a changing climate 2007. Government of Canada, Ottawa, pp 119–170Google Scholar
  43. Wardle RJ, Gower CF, Ryan B, Nunn GAG, James DT, Kerr A (1997) Geological Map of Labrador; 1:1 million scale. Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Department of Mines and Energy, Geological Survey, Map 97-07Google Scholar
  44. Way RG, Bell T, Barrand NE (2014) An inventory and topographic analysis of glaciers in the Torngat Mountains, northern Labrador, Canada. J Glaciol 60:945–956CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Way RG, Bell T, Barrand NE (2015) Glacier change from the early Little Ice Age to 2005 in the Torngat Mountains, northern Labrador, Canada. Geomorphology 246:558–569CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. White WB (1988) Geomorphology and hydrology of karst terrains. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  47. Williams H, Cawood PA (1989) Geology, Humber Arm Allochthon, Newfoundland. Geological Survey of Canada Map 1678AGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John’sCanada

Personalised recommendations