Fogo Island and Change Islands
Fogo Island is an outport community: a small, remote coastal settlement unique to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Fogo Islanders are people of the sea who have made their living by fishing the frigid and often unforgiving waters of the North Atlantic. This history of relative isolation and self-sufficiency has shaped Fogo Islanders and the Fogo Island of today, and continues to inform the Island’s economy and culture.
Our 11 distinct communities are not without their contemporary challenges, but they are also not without hope. Having resisted resettlement in the mid-twentieth century, we are here with purpose and conviction in this place that Captain Wadham, in his celebrated sailing directions called “a parcel of dammed rugged isles.” Our isolation from the mainland, our intimate entanglement with the sea and the forces of nature, and our lives lived at the very edge of a great ocean have created a place of many stories deserving of being passed down to many more generations.
The rugged isles that make up Fogo Island are home to one of the few places on earth where you can see the full spectrum of the magma chamber exposed. The island's geologic history is in evidence everywhere and includes stunning and fascinating contortions of rock formed by ice, fire, and sea. This unique history makes this place endlessly fascinating for geological researchers.
The geological story of Fogo Island and the neighbouring Change Islands begins 420 million years ago in a time geologists call the Silurian Period of the Paleozoic Era. At that time, the ancient continent of Gondwana, which included Africa and South America, had started to collide with the North American Continent, Laurentia, to form the Appalachian Mountain Belt along the eastern margin of North America. As the two large continents of Gondwana and Laurentia started to collide in the late Silurian Period, melting within the Earth’s mantle resulted in the creation of hot molten magma which rose into the earth’s crust forming large magma chambers.
As this hot magma continued its rise to the earth’s surface, volcanoes formed and erupted on top of the sedimentary basin with massive and destructive forces. The magma also intruded into the sedimentary basin, resulting in the destruction, consumption, and metamorphism of the sedimentary rocks. The magma chamber which remained below the surface eventually cooled, forming igneous rocks such as granite and gabbro.
During the final formation of the Appalachian Mountain Belt, all of the key geological components resulting from the continental collision including the Sedimentary rocks, the Volcanic rocks, and the Intrusive igneous rocks became tilted, faulted, folded and uplifted by the tectonic forces resulting from continental collision. This was followed by 400 million years of erosion to expose all these rocks at or near the surface of the earth in the distribution pattern which we observe on Fogo Island today.