The Giants Causeway serves as the name of a conglomeration of roughly 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. These occurred naturally as the result of an ancient volcanic eruption.
The rather remarkable Giants Causeway lies situated on the northeastern coast of Northern Ireland, in Europe. In 1986, UNESCO declared the location a World Heritage Site. Ireland subsequently also declared it a National Nature Reserve, in 1987.
The upper portions of the many columns form natural stepping stones. These lead from the base of a cliff and vanish under the sea.
The majority of the columns have a hexagonal shape, yet some of the columns of the Giants Causeway possess four, five, seven, or eight sides. The tallest of the columns measures about 39 ft (12 m) in height.
The solidified lava flow in the cliffs, from which they formed, measures nearly 92 ft (28 m) thick in some areas.
Giants Causeway Geology
The unique geology of the Giants Causeway originally formed during the Paleogene Period. This occurred between 50-60 million years ago. At this time, the region routinely experienced rather intense volcanic activity.
As a result of great pressure, molten lava protruded through extensive chalk beds, forming a large plateau of lava. As it cooled, contraction occurred. This process was similar to what occurs in drying mud, and the contraction occurred in both a horizontal and a vertical manner.
This created countless fractures, creating the pillars of the Giants Causeway. The size of the individual columns depended on the speed at which the lava in that particular spot cooled.
Subsequent erosion then formed numerous unique structures. Some of these also possess names based on their supposed resemblance to other objects, with two notables being the Giants Boot and the Chimney Stacks.