Here is the follow up of my earlier post on the landscapes at Giant’s Causeway. This one is more about the trademark basalt columns that litter both the cliffside and the shoreline. The first time I saw basalt columns like these was in Iceland. Apparently they are also in Scotland as they were formed by the splitting of the tectonic plates many millions of years ago.
One thing I learned is that the columns do not form due to crystallization. In some regards it is the opposite process, as they form due to rapid cooling. Our friendly ranger informed us that it is no different from mud drying out and forming cracks, except of course that the cracks are very regular and also much deeper than mud. Apparently the cracks form perpendicular to the lava flow, which is why the columns can be angled and even bent.
The cooling process forces the columns to contract vertically as well. Rather than cleaving straight across, they separate in either a concave or convex form.
With the help of rain and the tides, this has the nice effect of creating a pleasing mosaic of circular puddles that reflect the sky.
When a confluence of factors come together, you get what look like marshmallows. Oddly enough, these were not mentioned in the legends of Finn McCool.
On a side note I read a review of my camera (Fuji XE-1) that said it didn’t do the outdoors very well because the colors were a bit muted. Apparently it takes better pictures indoors and of people, two things I rarely take pictures of. Despite that warning, I decided to go for this one instead of the Olympus OM-D E-M5. I’m glad to say that I haven’t found this to be a limitation. This last photo I present as a counterexample that illustrates the range of colors you can get out of the camera and stock lens.
At some point, I’ll post pictures from Iceland to compare the basalt formations. As that was 10 years ago, I may need to dig out some hard copies!