Outcrops of volcanic rocks including basalts and rhyolites are found along the coast at Arisaig, in northern Nova Scotia. Archaeological evidence shows that our ancestors used a maroon rhyolite from this area to make tools, which shows up at ancestral sites all across Nova Scotia.
Along with this rhyolite, it is likely people also used the quartz and other silica-rich materials found at Arisaig. As the once molten basalt cooled, other minerals trapped in the basalt collected in veins and were fused into an almost glass-like structure (like the translucent fine-grained material shown here). Like maroon rhyolite, this silica-rich material can be flaked into sharp edges and fine points.
With the arrival of European ships some 600 years ago, a new mineral appeared on these beaches. European flint was stored in ships as ballast, and then dumped upon their arrival here. Also an excellent tool material, European flint was used by the Mi’kmaq to make arrowheads as recently as 200 years ago.