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Articulated Building Blocks

Look closer at the basalt column featured in yesterday’s post.

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Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Basalt Columns

Articulated Building Blocks — HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

“List of places with columnar jointed volcanics” is a Wikipedia page, over a hundred sites across the globe and high resolution images of Mars, these columns of Giant’s Causeway are no less marvelous for being the most famous of a phenomenon well documented.

A pile of articulated blocks, ready for assembly, next to orderly placed columns forming a pavement into the sea. Across the way, on the Isle of Mull, Scotland, a matching pavement. “Jointed” means one surface of each block is convex, the other concave, two blocks fit together.

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Creeping up on 900 Readers….

….and a photographic gallery.

As of June 9, 881 is the count of subscribers to this blog, an interesting number. The individual numerals sum to a prime number, 17. I appreciate each and every “1” added together, you readers. Thank You.

Today, June 20, 5:44 pm Eastern Daylight Time, is the Summer Solstice for our Northern Hemisphere, the longest day of the year.

Here is a selection of images from past posts.

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Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

More humans…..

…with the stars of the show.

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Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Enter Humans…..

..and the first columns.

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Beach

Large Rocks and Grass

More stunning views from the Causeway Walk on the way to the main attraction. We did not explore enough to discover the sand reported to exist along the water margin.

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Brick Red

Spheroidal weathering of Basalt

Layers of red rock, lit here by sunset on Giant’s Causeway, along the cliff trail, seen here from below, are called laterite from the Latin for brick (later). Here it is formed from iron rich basalt laid down well before the upper layers of the magma plateau. It takes eons to weather and oxidize the iron of basalt, transforming it to the brick red of laterite, yet the rocks above it are still dark. The process happens in warmer climates with alternating cycles of rain and drought, for Ireland this was when the land was much farther south than today. Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Here it is formed from iron rich basalt laid down well before the upper layers of the magma plateau. It takes eons to weather and oxidize the iron of basalt, transforming it to the brick red of laterite, yet the rocks above it are still dark. The process happens in warmer climates with alternating cycles of rain and drought, for Ireland this was when the land was much farther south than today.

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Lava dikes rise from the water below. Here is a wider view with the “causeway” elements with human figures in foreground.

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Iceland

2,400 miles distant

Next stop Iceland, about 705 miles over the water, in this view north from Giant’s Causeway walk.

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Can you see the footpath? The human figures? They provide a sense of scale. I love that patch to yellowed grass.

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Weathered Lava

Spheroidal weathering of Basalt

In preparation for our Ireland tour I woke before work to research each location, filling a leather bound notebook with facts and observations. Faced with the Giant’s Causeway I was woefully unprepared to comprehend the sights.

Walking down the Causeway path, the cliffs rise on the right, at the foot are these strange deposits. The Causeway is part of an enormous lava plateau formed during eruptions 50-60 million years ago. This lava was at bottom, eventually exposed to weather. As eons passed, the basalt reacted chemically with rainwater, the outer rock flaking off like layers of an onion to reveal these strange rounded forms.

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Being here is like finding the abandoned workshop of a giant. The place lives up to the name.

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Volcanic Dike

A Bactrian Camel (?)

The entire northern Antrim coast is the remnant of an lava flow hundreds of feet deep, the depth corresponds to cliff height today. It made a great location for a defensive fort, or dun, featured in an earlier post. I say today because on a time scale of 50 million years the late Bronze age, 3000 years ago, was yesterday.

Here is another view from the Giant’s Causeway walk, wonders presented at every step. This lava dike, now surrounded by water, formed when flowing lava entered a crack though a layer of basalt from an earlier eruption. The lava cooled, over eons the surrounding material eroded, leaving a wall of rock. This formation has an irregular surface that resembles a two humped camel from some angles.

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Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills