Giant's Causeway facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Giant's Causeway and Causeway Coast *
Aird Snout - - 474835.jpg
The columns of the middle causeway
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Type Natural
Criteria vii, viii
Reference 369
Region ** List of World Heritage Sites in Europe
Inscription history
Inscription 1986 (10th session Session)
Calzada de los gigantes01
Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It is in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland.

It is a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

It was named and a National Nature Reserve in 1987 by the Department of the Environment for Northern Ireland. In a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, the Giant's Causeway was named as the fourth greatest natural wonder in the United Kingdom.

The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven and eight sides. The tallest are about 12 metres (36 ft) high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 metres thick in places.

The Giant's Causeway is today owned and managed by the National Trust. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland.

Geological significance

The Giant's Causeway and Fingal's Cave are part of the same volcanic eruption. They were separated by the plate tectonics movements which happened when the supercontinent Pangaea broke up.

Some 50 to 60 million years ago, during the Palaeogene period, Antrim was subject to intense volcanic activity, when highly fluid molten basalt intruded through chalk beds to form an extensive lava plateau. As the lava cooled rapidly, contraction occurred. The size of the columns is primarily determined by the speed at which lava from a volcanic eruption cools. The extensive fracture network produced the distinctive columns seen today. The basalts were originally part of a great volcanic plateau called the Thulean Plateau which formed during the Paleogene period. Parts of this plateau can be found in the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Norway, as well as at Fingal's Cave.

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