Giant’s Causeway

4 Apr

The Giant’s Causeway is located on the north-east coast of Ireland in a place called County Antrim. It consists of approximately 40,000 interlocking basalt columns that formed due to a volcanic eruption.

Giant's Causeway - Source

Giant’s Causeway – Source

Rather than paraphrase Wikipedia’s explanation on the formation I figured I would copy it here as it provides a good, easy to understand overview:

“Some 50 to 60 million years ago, during the Paleogene period, Antrim was subject to intense volcanic activity, when highly fluid molten basalt intruded through chalk beds to form an extensive lava plateau. As the lava cooled rapidly, contraction occurred. Horizontal contraction fractured in a similar way to drying mud, with the cracks propagating down as the mass cooled, leaving pillar-like structures, which are also fractured horizontally into “biscuits”. In many cases the horizontal fracture has resulted in a bottom face that is convex while the upper face of the lower segment is concave, producing what are called “ball and socket” joints. The size of the columns is primarily determined by the speed at which lava from a volcanic eruption cools”

There was an old legend that described the formation as the result of an ancient giant ‘Benandonner’ tearing it up so that the great warrior ‘Fionn mac Cumhaill’ could not follow him. The story goes that the giant challenged Fionn and went to his house seeking him out. Not wanting to fight, Fionn and his wife came up with the idea to dress Fionn up as a baby. When Benandonner came to the house, Fionn’s wife told the giant he was out but he would be back shortly and he could wait if he wished. She showed the giant Fionn’s baby and after seeing how big he was the giant feared Fionn would be bigger. He ran away and tore up the causeway so Fionn could not follow him. There are a few slight variations on this story but this is the general outline.

These basalt structures are not unique to the Giant’s Causeway. There are many other locations with similar features around the world. There are two interesting features located at this spot, though. They are the Chimney Stack and the Giants Boot, shown below.

The Giants Boot

The Giants Boot

The Chimney Stack

The Chimney Stack

If anyone has visited the Giant’s Causeway or any similar structures, we would love to hear about it. Feel free to share some photos too.

One Response to “Giant’s Causeway”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Belfast: Then And Now | Kathryn's Blog - October 10, 2013

    […] along the way include Giant’s Causeway, a mass of 40,000 hexagonal basalt stone columns that form steps from the foot of the cliff into […]

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