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Canadas Geologic History

Read Pages 93-100, do questions 1-5, 8, 11


Canadas physical landscape is partly the result of conflict between forces

that build the land higher and those that wear it down
o Force that violently pushes land upward can create mountains, while
wind, snow, rain, running water and ice can all wear down the
landscape (Erosion)
We can learn about the earths geological history by studying landforms,
rocks, and fossils
What is geological time? What is an era?
o History of the earth from the time it formed to the present day
o An era represents a time of major sediment deposition and earth
What are the 4 eras? What are some major geological and biological events
that happened during the eras? What is the order of the eras from current to


Cenozoic (recent

Time period
(millions of years)

Mesozoic (middle


Paleozoic (ancient


Major Geological

Major Biological

- ice sheets cover

much of N.A.
- continents take
on their present
- formation of the
Rocky Mountains
- Formation of the
Rocky Mountains
- Innuitian
Mountains formed
- shallow seas in
the interior of N.A
at various times
- periods when
large parts of N.A
are covered by
shallow seas
- Appalachians

- human beings
- age of mammals
- modern forms of
life evolve

- age of reptiles,
such as dinosaurs
- first flowering
- first birds and

- age of
amphibians and
-first insects
- large swamps coal formed from
this vegetation

(earliest life)


- Precambrian
shields, such as
the Canadian
Shield, Brazilian
Shield, African
Shield, and
Australian Shield
are formed

- first plants and

animals appear on
- first multi-celled
- first single-celled

Precambrian Era

The time when the earth was formed (approx. 4,600,000,000 years ago)
Canadian Shield was the only part of Canada that existed at this time
What is the process of folding?
o Enormous pressure causing the earth to buckle
What is the process of faulting?
o The earth cracks open
What kinds of rock make up the Canadian Shield?
o Mostly igneous and metamorphic rock
o Some sedimentary rock
By the end there were complex organisms (which we can tell by the fossils)

Paleozoic Era

How did the bedrock form?

o Sediments were moved by rivers and deposited in the shallow seas
that surrounded the Shield, which were then compressed into
sedimentary rock
What was the name of the supercontinent?
o Pangaea
At the start of this period, organisms existed only in the sea
During this period, creatures with shells appeared for the first time
Eventually creatures such as amphibians, fish, and insects evolved, and
moved onto the land
What is one way scientists can determine the age of rocks (specifically
sedimentary rocks)
The largest mass extinction took place during this era, killing off over 80% of
life in the seas

Mesozoic Era

Marked the beginning of the break of Pangaea

What covered much of central and western Canada during this time?
o Seas and swamps

During this time, the Coast Range Mountains, Rocky Mountains and the
Innuitian Mountains were formed due to magma cooling and solidifying,
tectonic forces folding the earths surface, and the North American plate
moving northward
Dinosaurs lived and roamed around what is now Canada
The coal now found in southern BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan were formed
by vegetation, sand, and silt being compressed into coal deposits
A second mass extinction took place now, which killed off the dinosaurs and
more than half of the plant and animal species
o Common theory for this mass extinction is the Earth collided with an

Cenozoic Era

Volcanoes released large amounts of lava which formed plateaus between the
Coast Mountains and the Rocky Mountains
Continual tectonic plate shifting caused the uplifting of the Coast Mountains,
while folding, faulting, and the action of volcanoes continued to shape the
What is the Ice Age?
o At least four periods of large-scale glacial activity
o Huge glaciers were created during this time, as a result of slight
cooling of the Earths atmosphere
What significance did the Glaciers play in the shaping of Canada?
o As they moved, they scraped and gouged the land they covered
o The act of glaciers moving around rounded out the Appalachian
Mountains and the Canadian Shield
o Glaciers also carried large amounts of clay, silt, sand, and gravel,
which was then dumped on the lowlands surrounding the Shield
o Finally, the glaciers melting created our current pattern of lakes, rivers,
hills, and plains
Mammals became the dominant species during this period, and have
maintained dominance (us)
o Name some changes / impacts humans have had on the Earth since
our beginning
o Realize that these changes are minor compared to the massive
geological forces at work for billions of years