Science, Giants, and Geology

 

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The highlight of our tour of Northern Ireland was visiting the World Heritage site, Giant’s Causeway.

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The Causeway earned this honour back in 1986, the same year the Visitor Center opened, and is one of top four greatest natural wonders of the United Kingdom.

 

Take a 15-minute leisurely walk through the hills before you reach the rocky beach and the famous basalt pillars.

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During the Paleocene Epoch, the area now known as Antrim in Northern Ireland had loads of volcanic activity and frequent eruptions of basalt lava. As the lava cooled over the land, which was largely chalk, it left hexagonal cracks that went downward into the soil that later resembled a honeycomb.

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Some of these “honeycomb” columns are nearly 40 feet  high and there are around 40,000 of them. Bases of the columns are below water and the tops form a trippy sort of tile floor you can climb across. Surrounding cliffs have large sheets of solid lava in them, some almost 100 feet thick.

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Legend of Finn McCool
Local lore spins a tale of an Irish Giant named Finn McCool that angrily threw stones into the sea to incite the attention of a Scottish giant named Benandonner. When he succeeded and caught a glimpse of the unexpectedly massive Scot, he turned and ran home.

As Benandonner crossed the sea to confront Finn, Finn’s wife decided to dress him up as a baby and hide him in a bassinet she formed quickly out of blankets. When Benandonner barged in and searched the home, he fled in fear believing that if Finn’s baby was that huge, Finn must really be a monster.

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Large stones in the sea and on the beach, in addition some curiously shoe-shaped boulders and other structures, are said to be the remnants of this near battle.

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Research has been ongoing here for many years to determine the exact scientific and geological processes that created this world wonder, but if you ask a local, it was Finn McCool.

 

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