The Giant’s Causeway in Ireland consists of tens of thousands of interlocking basalt columns. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Why Is It Famous?
The unique appearance of the Giant’s Causeway gives the location its fame. It looks as if it should be the stepping stones of a giant. Its unique appearance has also led to various myths and legends regarding the area.
To find the Giant’s Causeway, go to County Antrim in Northern Ireland. Bushmills is around three miles to the southwest of the site. You can freely access the site itself, although there is also a Visitor’s Centre, which charges admission.
The attraction is made up of 40,000 columns, each of which is made of basalt. Most have six sides and a hexagonal shape, with all of the columns featuring between four and eight sides. The solidified lava that forms the Giant’s Causeway’s columns can be as thick as 28 meters and as tall as 12 meters.
This structure began forming between 50 and 60 million years ago in the Paleocene Epoch. The area experienced intense volcanic activity. The basalt that was highly fluid and molten intruded through the chalk beds, creating a lava plateau. Over time, the lava cooled and contracted, leading to cracks flowing down. Those cracks created the pillar-like structures that make up the Giant’s Causeway today. It is common for the bottom face of the pillars to be convex with the lower segment’s upper face being concave, which is a ball and socket joint.
Events in Time
UNESCO designated the Giant’s Causeway as a World Heritage Site in 1986. The Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland declared it a national nature reserve the following year. A poll in 2005 earned it the status as the fourth-best natural wonder in the U.K.
The Giant’s Causeway looks like a series of stepping stones that giants could have used thousands of years ago. It is the result of lava from volcanic activity tens of millions of years ago that cooled to create pillars.