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Quick Column Note


I have the morning off from grad school classes, and of course, instead of doing some of the things I need to do, I’ve been reading through a lot of wonderful geoblogs, and almost of them feature pictures of columnar basalt. But none of them have pictures of one of the most famous columnar basalt formations in the world, Fingal’s Cave! So, I figured I’d add to the conglomeration.


The Island of Staffa- Photo by MB Griggs

Fingal’s Cave is the inspiration for Mendelssohn’s ‘Hebridean Overture’, and is home to some of the most perfect basalt columns in the world. It is located on the remote, and very tiny scottish island of Staffa, off of the still tiny and spiritually significant island of Iona, off the much larger but still pretty remote island of Mull off the mainland of Scotland (Which is in the UK, which is kind of an island off of Europe…). The columns formed from large basalt lava flows which cooled slowly enough to crack into the hexagonal fracture pattern that we see today. Another really famous location of columnar basalts is the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, which is probably one of the few columnar basalt formations that surpasses Fingal’s Cave in popular recognition.

Basalt columns on Staffa- Photo by MB Griggs

Base of Rooftop Columns in Fingals Cave Photo by MB Griggs

Interior of Fingal's Cave- Photo by MB Griggs

Basalt on Staffa photo by MB Griggs

For a list of more blogs with great pictures of Columnar Basalts all over the world, go to Outside the Interzone which has a great list going! Thanks to Jessica Ball’s Magma Cum Laude blog and Ryan Brown’s Twitter post for alerting me to the theme.


  1. Dana Hunter wrote:

    That is phenomenal. Drooling now. Thank you!

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 11:53 pm | Permalink
  2. Jen wrote:

    That is so cool! Those pics are amazing

    Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 1:32 am | Permalink
  3. LMG wrote:

    Aye, ye can jist hear the music! Beautiful!

    Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Permalink
  4. Ahmad wrote:

    Hi Jo,I love your stories about the Tweed Coast. Fingal is a very speaicl place.Your first comment in this story hit me. YES Fingal Head IS Point Danger.For more history on the Fingal Head/Point Danger Story see the following.Go To National library of Australia. Go To the TROVE digital database of newspapers and more Look for The Australian Women’s Weekly Wednesday 5th January 1972 Pages 32 and 33. It’s a story about old Mr Grant and his battle to prove that Fingal Head was indeed Point Danger. There is much more information in the achives of the Tweed Daily News. He was right but the geographical place names committee refused to change the name or location.Co-incidentally I just read your latest ANZAC Day Story Mr Grant was a World War 1 Digger who was awarded the Military Medal for his actions in Belgium in 1915.

    Tuesday, August 28, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

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  1. Tweets that mention The Rocks Know › Quick Column Note -- on Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Chris Rowan and Rose Eveleth, Mary Beth Griggs. Mary Beth Griggs said: I really can't resist a good columnar basalt- Pictures of Fingal's Cave […]