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Scientists solve mystery of Giant's Causeway


Posted on Saturday, 14 April, 2018 | Comment icon 7 comments

The Giant's Causeway is a popular tourist attraction. Image Credit: CC BY 4.0 Giorgio Galeotti
Volcanologists have succeeded in recreating the area's distinctive hexagonal columns in a laboratory.
Situated along the coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland, the Giant's Causeway consists of 40,000 interlocking hexagonal basalt columns that were created during an ancient volcanic eruption.

The precise threshold at which molten magma cools to create such a unique feature has long been a topic of debate among scientists, but now, volcanologists led by Professor Yan Lavallee at the University of Liverpool believe that they may have finally found the answer.

Their research involved recreating the process in a laboratory using basalt cores drilled from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland.

The 20cm-long cylinders were heated up until they were hot enough to soften in to lava. They were then fixed at either end by a mechanical grip and cooled until they broke apart.

The team's findings suggested that the Giant's Causeway must have formed at around 840-890C.

"We have been wanting to know whether the temperature of the lava that causes the fractures was hot, warm or cold," said Lavallee.

"I have spent over a decade pondering how to address this question and construct the right experiment to find the answer to this question."

"Now, with this study, we have found that the answer is hot, but after it solidified."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (7)

Tags: Giant's Causeway

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Vilasarius on 14 April, 2018, 20:24
That must have been an awe inspiring and maybe even frightening sight to earlier generations. It is still awesome however.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Not A Rockstar on 14 April, 2018, 21:53
I was thinking about this and wishing I could hear some of the early stories it inspired. What am amazing site that is, even in pictures. I'd like to see it in person.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Not A Rockstar on 14 April, 2018, 21:55
LOL can you imagine? Telling someone volcanos made it, they'd never believe something so silly as that, when obviously giants had been there sometime before I love the natural world.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Vilasarius on 14 April, 2018, 22:14
No doubt. Tales of monster dens and the likes.
Comment icon #5 Posted by DieChecker on 15 April, 2018, 3:45
I've always liked the way this natural feature looked. I hope to go there and take a look at it some day.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Socks Junior on 15 April, 2018, 17:38
There are some nice examples of hexagonal cooling joints in the US too! The Southwest has a lot of good ones. Some just right off the highway in Southern Colorado that we take the youths to.
Comment icon #7 Posted by travelnjones on 16 April, 2018, 16:31
Devils post piles


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