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Columnar basalt rock

Columnar basalt rock

E417/0181

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Credit

DIRK WIERSMA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DIRK WIERSMA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Columnar basalt rock at the Giant's Causeway on the north coast of Northern Ireland. Pentagonal or hexagonal columns of basalt are formed during the cooling of extrusive, igneous rock. This is rock that has formed from lava that has risen to the Earth's surface due to volcanic activity. More than 90 percent of volcanic rocks are basaltic. The columns average 46 centimetres across and are 1 to 2 metres in height. The Giant's Causeway is so-called because of a legend that an Irish giant created the causeway as stepping-stones for an invasion of Scotland. The columnar basalts enter the Irish Sea in Northern Ireland and reappear in Scotland on the Isle of Staffa.

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