On a sunny day in Harbourville the beaches sparkle. Typical Nova Scotia beaches sparkle when the sun reflects on the sand. In Harbourville, the sparkle is generated from the many gems embedded in the stones that line the shore.
A walk on the beach in Harbourville can be a bit of a hard go. No soft sand here. Just rocks upon rocks that shift under your feet. But worth each step. You will not have to search very hard to find gems in the rocks. Instead, you may have a more challenging search if you look for rocks that are gem-free.
The "gems" are actually mineral crystals that are a result of lava flows millions of years ago. It is almost impossible to even imagine these beaches under such conditions, with dinosaurs roaming about. But, the proof is in the stones. The huge basalt ridges along this shore were created during the Triassic period when Nova Scotia broke away from North Africa and lava oozed up from the newly formed cracks. As the lava cooled gas bubbles formed near the surface of the basalt where the pressure was low. Over time, the bubbles were filled with a variety of minerals.
Most of the mineral crystals found on the shores of Harbourville are zeolites. Below are some of the treasures I stumbled upon on a recent visit to Harbourville.
And below is a photo of my favorite find. This rock measured about 2 feet by 3 feet and was almost completely covered in mineral crystals. What a beautiful sight.
After a hunched over walk along the beach, with your head down, searching for treasures, you'll find just as much to admire when you stand to have a stretch. Looking up you will see the magnificent, and slightly intimidating, basalt cliffs.
And, on a clear day, you will be able to see the outline of Cape Chignecto across the bay.
As tempting as it is to remove the gems along this, or any beach, please keep in mind that removing rocks or shells from Nova Scotia beaches can contribute to erosion and can cause negative effects to delicate ecosystems. Be sure to leave only footprints, and take only pictures.