The Champlain Sea was cold initially, but studies of its invertebrate fauna indicate that its temperature rose. Its maximum depth, in the centre of the basin, must have been about 200 m. Salinity values (10 to 30 parts per thousand) and temperatures (-1° to 8° C) were similar to those of JAMES BAY at present. The sea lasted some 2000 years when the water became too fresh to accommodate marine organisms. The ancient shorelines of the Champlain Sea are now over 200 m above sea level north of the St Lawrence and 150-190 m above sea level to the south of the lowlands due to differential postglacial isostatic uplift. The most abundant sediments deposited by the sea, the Leda marine clays, are mainly rock "flour" from glacial abrasion. Their mineralogy principally reflects the composition of the Precambrian rocks from which they are derived, ie, they contain quartz, amphiboles and pyroxenes (see GEOLOGICAL REGIONS). They are classed as "sensitive soils" because the incorporated sea salt has dissolved leaving voids that can cause the sediment to contain more water than its normal "liquid limit." Thus, when disturbed after much snowmelt or rainfall, particularly when triggered by earthquakes or heavy traffic or construction, the clays become fluid and LANDSLIDES result. Many landslides and earthflows have occurred in the clays, sometimes with loss of life and considerable material damage (Saint-Maurice Valley, 1663; Saint-Alban, 1894; Nicolet, 1955).
The Champlain Sea area has gradually become an erosional environment. When properly drained, its marine clays constitute the best agricultural land in Québec.
Author PIERRE LASALLE Revised: ROBERT J. ROGERSON
Links to Other Sites
Life of a Rock Star
This site tells the story of an extraordinary group of scientists who tramped, paddled and rolled across Canada in the nineteenth century to study the geology of Canada's varied terrain.
An extensive information source about the geological history, human settlement patterns, earth and water resources, and natural hazards found in locations across the country. Click on the red symbols on the interactive map of Canada to explore aerial landscapes, maps, photos, colourful online posters, and more. A Geoscape Canada website from Natural Resources Canada.
Archaeological Potential Study – Gatineau/Ottawa Area
A well-illustrated report about the archaeological and geological history of the Ottawa-Gatineau region. From the website for the Interprovincial Crossings Environmental Assessment Study.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...