If you saw a perfectly shaped six-sided rock with straight, smooth edges, what would you think? It had to be man-made, carved for some specific purpose, right? Wrong! Your geometry teacher would be proud to know that the Earth actually forms its own hexagonal rocks. Known as Giant’s Causeway, this area in the northeast coast of Ireland has become a popular tourist destination.
Most of these rock formations are in the form of hexagons (a six-sided image), but there are also some with as little as four and as many as eight sides. The tops of them are flat—perfect to use as stepping-stones. And you may just need to use them as such in order to see all the sights at Giant’s Causeway, since some of the pencil-like pillars reach up to 39 feet high.
Where did it get the name Giant’s Causeway? Legend has it that an Irish giant by the name of Finn MacCool (Sounds to me like a friend of The Fonz!) built a causeway to cross the North Channel. The reason? To put the beat down on another giant in Scotland. At least he was picking on someone his own size, I suppose. Adding credence to the myth, identical rocks can also be found at Fingal’s Cave, which is across the sea on the Scottish Isle of Staffa.
If for some reason the legend of Finn MacCool isn’t true, you likely wonder how these rocks were formed in such an amazing configuration. They are the result of lava, which was forced upwards from below the Earth’s crust long ago. As the molten rock met with the air, it cooled and shrank. These hexagonal shapes were then formed by the cracks. But why did all 40,000 of them form into interlocking geometric shapes? That could only happen because of the amazing chemical composition of basalt, of which they are all formed.