What Are the Physical Characteristics of the Canadian Shield?

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The Canadian Shield is a landform that encompasses three million square miles extending from eastern Canada to the Canadian Arctic Circle consisting of ancient crystalline rocks, mountain ranges, hills, lakes and swamps, according to Encyclopedia Britannica. The largest mass of exposed Precambrian rock on Earth is in the Canadian Shield.

The eastern part of Tuktut Nogait National Park typifies the Canadian Shield. Glacier action left behind eskers, drumlins and deposits of glacial till. Rugged hills with many lakes and rivers dot the landscape in this remote region of northwestern Canada.

The Laurentian Plateau is another name for the Canadian Shield, according to the Infoplease Almanac. The soil in this region is very poor except for the southern area covered in pine forests. The northern part of the Canadian Shield is a tundra biome. There are few humans living in the Canadian Shield, yet there are mineral deposits that can be exploited for commercial purposes in addition to possibilities for hydroelectric power.

Most of the rocks in the Canadian Shield are igneous in origin due to ancient volcanic activity. Princeton University states there are five subregions of the area, including portions in the northern part of the United States. In New York, the Adirondack Mountains are considered part of this ancient region.