The Ovens Anticline

400 million years ago North Africa and North America started colliding. The heat generated by the tectonic plate collision melted rock and the force of the collision crumpled it into anticlines (domes) and synclines (troughs) - a series of rock waves – in many areas of the South Shore and Eastern Shore.

This process led to the formation of most of Nova Scotia’s gold deposits: Fluid leached gold from rock deep underground and flowed into cracks in rock closer to surface, forming veins of gold-bearing quartz as the fluid eventually cooled and hardened.

Below is the top of an anticline at the Ovens, Lunenburg County, where gold was discovered in 1861.

This anticline at the Ovens is much smaller than those, for example, at Moose River, where gold has been mined in both the historical and modern eras. The picture only shows the Ovens anticline’s crest – the rest is buried under the beach – but the full anticline is still only tens of metres across, much smaller than the one at the Moose River mine shown in the other picture below. Anticlines and synclines can be as big as several kilometres across or as small as a few centimetres.

The bedrock at the Ovens is mostly slate and siltstone. (As its name suggests, siltstone is silt that was transformed into rock by heat and pressure). The dark grey in the Ovens anticline is slate. The lighter grey is metasiltstone. The whitish bands are the sort of quartz veins that often carry gold in Nova Scotia’s gold deposits.

The Moose River anticline’s colours are different because the bedrock in that area is mostly metasandstone, metawacke and metasiltstone. While the types of rock are different, the process by which the Ovens and Moose River anticlines/synclines and gold deposits formed are basically the same.

Gold is everywhere but to mine it, we need a geological anomaly like a tectonic plate collision to form a deposit - to concentrate the gold so a mine is economically viable.

The Ovens hosted one of Nova Scotia’s earliest gold rushes. It is a beautiful park and campground today. See its story at

There was an accidental shooting at the Ovens in 1861 during its gold rush days. See the story at