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Rockhounding in Nova Scotia

What is in these Nova Scotian rocks? Treasure might be inside. (© jurekd, flickr.com)

What is in these Nova Scotian rocks? Treasure might be inside.

Nova Scotia’s amazing geological history and constant tidal action means the province is a fantastic place to hunt for rocks and fossils.

A stroll on the beach might turn up a bit of deep  purple amethyst crystal. Then there are agates, jasper, quartz and copper for rockhounders to collect along with countless other minerals, precious and semi-precious stones.

This bounty of treasure came from volcanic activity during the Jurassic Period, about 250 million years ago, when a series of eruptions caused the intense heat and pressure necessary to create this assortment.

The best part about this activity is that it’s absolutely free. All you need is a hammer,  some safety glasses (or turn your eyes away when you crack open the rocks) and a tide table. Because so much rockhounding is done along the shoreline, you don’t want to get trapped by Nova Scotia’s fast-rising tides.

The best rockhounding is found on the Bay of Fundy and these areas in particular stand out when it comes to rocks:

  • Parrsboro – This small town in northern Nova Scotia has been home to some of the world’s most fabulous discoveries of rocks, fossils and dinosaur bones. It has the excellent Fundy Geological Museum (where experts can help identify what you’ve found) and the Rock & Mineral Shop, where you can marvel at the world’s smallest dinosaur footprints. Finding amethyst on the beach is almost too easy. In August, Parrsboro fills up for the Gem & Mineral Show. More…
  • Joggins – Although you can’t rockhound at Joggins, rock lovers should make it a point to stop at the fossil cliffs here, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. See giant trees and insects embedded in the rocks. Take a tour or explore on your own. More…
  • Cape Blomidon Provincial Park – In the Annapolis Valley and near the university town of Wolfville, the beaches of Cape Blomidon and surrounding areas like Scots Bay and Amethyst Cove boast agates and amethyst. You can also camp in the provincial park here. If you come this way, be sure to stop in and see Rob’s Rock Shop in Kentville, where you can get expert advice and maps. More…