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Gypsum Caves, Hillsborough

North of Riverside-Albert as far as Hillsborough, the brilliant white gypsum cliffs of the Upperton Formation stand out against the forest and red – brown rocks elsewhere in Albert County. Outcrops are well hidden from the road and only those venturing on back roads are likely to see them. Gypsum is soft, an evaporite mineral deposited in the Windsor Sea. About 340 million years ago low-lying areas of the Maritimes Basin were flooded by seawater. Over a period of about 15 million years sea level rose and fell and the Windsor Sea occupied New Brunswick as far inland as the area around Sussex. New Brunswick was located near the equator and when sea levels lowered, the salt water evaporated, concentrating the minerals into salts or evaporates; potash, salt and gypsum.

Caves have formed in the gypsum, a habitat for bats. The gypsum bedrock is also home to a unique assemblage of rare plants, some more typical of arctic environments. The area of gypsum cliffs near Wilson Brook has been designated a Class I Protected Natural Area that requires complete protection as it contains ecologically sensitive features that could be damaged with human activity. All activities are prohibited in these areas, except by permit from the Minister for educational and scientific purposes.