14 Amazing Basalt Formations

Basalt is a common volcanic rock formed from the rapid cooling of basaltic lava exposed at or very near the surface of our planet. Jointed basalt columns, as the most famous and most beautiful basalt formations, exists on many places on earth. These unusual columns are predominantly hexagonal in cross-section, but basalt polygons with three to twelve or more sides can be observed.

1. Litlanesfoss, Iceland

Litlanesfoss is a waterfall located in East Iceland about 30 km (19 mi) from Egilstaddir. It is about halfway up the canyon to Hengifoss (another waterfall) and is surrounded by chutes and columns of basalt extending in strange directions. The river continues into Lagarfljot (lake) a couple of kilometers below. This place is definitely unforgettable sight from Iceland.

2. Sea Cave on the Akun Island, Alaska, USA

This wonderful cave is located on the Akun Island, one of the Fox Islands subgroup of the Aleutian Islands in southwestern Alaska, USA. Many of the islands of the Aleutians are made up of columnar basalt. Akun Island is also mostly composed of basalt and has several sea caves like this one.

3. Ghenh Da Dia, Vietnam

With natural stones, strangely structured rocks, columns or obliques of frozen mineral flows, Ghenh Da Dia (Rapids of Stone Plates) is considered as a masterpiece of stone gifted by the nature.

Ghenh Da Dia is strangely structured rocks include large upright stones equally arranged in a star pattern. Being a riddle of nature, like a giant jigsaw, the rapids is irritatingly made of the same shaped pieces, and forms a solidified structure that has proved more than just a curiosity for thousands.

The stones in Ghenh Da Dia are bazan stones of dark black and light yellow. There exists large stones of tons and small stones with different shapes: round, pentagon, polygon and so on. The stones take the right column or a settlement close to each other like disks arranged on couples together. Even counting the stone columns has failed to yield an exact figure as exhausted researchers usually call a halt at around 35,000. The stones are 60-80cm (2-2,5 ft) in visible height and 20-30cm (8-12 inches) across and cluster round a small fresh water pond that is fed by underground rivers and never dries up.

4. Takachiho Gorge, Japan

The Takachiho Gorge is a V-shaped gorge, created by the Gokase-gawa River, which eroded the Aso lava. Red-tinted precipitous cliffs rising up on both sides of the gorge extend for a long distance. Manai-no-taki Falls, 17 meters (56 ft) high, is a popular highlight because of the clouds of spray that rise up from the falling water.

The gorge has a 600-meter (1,970 ft) long walking trail, which is decorated with mountain cherry blossoms and the flowers of Japanese azaleas and wisteria from spring till early summer, and red and yellow leaves in fall. Thus, you can enjoy fine views of the four seasons.

5. Los Organos, Canary Islands, Spain

The beautifully formed rock formations Los Organos, on the northern coast of La Gomera, are considered to be one of the most beautiful basalt formations on the Canary Islands. The slender cliffs rise up out of the sea to a height of 800 metres (2,600 ft) and a width of 200m (650 ft). The pillars, which look very similar to organ pipes, are the remains of vast lava masses of a once powerful volcano. Over time, erosion exposed the rocks, forming them to a natural work of art.

The perfect basalt pillars rise from the Atlantic like giant organ pipes. They are surrounded by high waves and white sea spray. Because the cliffs drop steeply into the sea, the only way to see Los Òrganos in all their might, is by taking a boat tour.

6. Jusangjeolli Cliffs, South Korea

The Jusangjeolli cliff is a spectacular volcanic rock formation at the southern coast of Jeju Island, South Korea. With almost perfect hexagonal columns, referred to by the locals as ‘Jisatgae Rocks,’ jutting 20 meters (66 ft) into the sky, the cliffs run for 2 km (1.25 mi) along the Daepo coast near the Jungmun tourist complex.

From the observation deck above, the rock formations are countless and even though there has been much corrosion and weathering caused by the ceaseless beating of the ocean the columns stand strong and fortified.

7. Garni Gorge, Armenia

The Garni Gorge is situated 23 km (14 mi) east of Yerevan, Armenia, just below the village with the same name. On a promontory above the gorge, the 1st century AD Garni temple may be seen.

Along the sides of the gorge are cliff walls of well preserved basalt columns, carved out by the Goght River. This portion of the Garni Gorge is typically referred to as the "Symphony of the Stones".

To get to the bottom of the gorge's breathtaking vertical cliffs visitors must walk or take a car, as the local buses in the area do not make trips down there. The cliffs themselves are extremely beautiful, consisting mainly of well preserved basalt columns. The orderly octagonal columns look almost man-made.

8. Fingal's Cave, UK

Fingal's Cave is a sea cave on the uninhabited island of Staffa, in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, part of a National Nature Reserve owned by the National Trust for Scotland. It is formed entirely from hexagonally jointed basalt columns.

Its size and naturally arched roof, and the eerie sounds produced by the echoes of waves, give it the atmosphere of a natural cathedral. The cave's Gaelic name, An Uaimh Bhinn, means "the melodious cave".

The cave has a large arched entrance and is filled by the sea. Several local companies include a pass by the cave in sightseeing cruises from April to September.

However, it is also possible to land elsewhere on the island and walk to the cave overland, where a row of fractured columns forms a walkway just above high-water level permitting exploration on foot.

9. Giant's Causeway, UK

The Giant's Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. It is located in County Antrim on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland, about three miles (4.8 km) northeast of the town of Bushmills.

It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986, 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 or eight sides. The tallest are about 12 metres (39 ft) high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 28 metres (92 ft) thick in places. The Giant's Causeway is today owned and managed by the National Trust and it is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern Ireland.

10. Prismas Basálticos, Mexico

Los Prismas Basálticos (The Basalt Prisms) are tall columns of basalt rock that line a ravine through which water runs from the San Antonio Dam. This ravine area was part of the Santa María Regla Hacienda and was first promoted by Alexander von Humboldt in 1803.

The walls of the canyon, called the Barranca de Alcholoya, are lined by polygonal columns between thirty and fifty meters (100-165 ft) high with five or six sides.

The visible columns are backed by even more polygonal basalt columns. There are two waterfalls. The higher one has its water supplemented by diversions from nearby dams. The lower one is called the Cascada de la Rosa.

The canyon has been prepared by the addition of stairs, walkways and hanging bridges for easy access.

11. Kirkjugólf, Iceland

Kirkjugólf (The Church Floor) is in the field just east of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. It's an approx. 80 m² (860 sq ft) expanse of columnar basalt, eroded and shaped by glaciers and waves.

There has never been a church there but the plane looks as though it's man made. Columnar basalt is formed when lava flow gets cooled and contraction forces build up.

Cracks then form horizontally and the extensive fracture network that develops results in the six sided formation of the columns. Kirkjugólf is a protected natural

12. Svartifoss, Iceland

Svartifoss (Black Fall) is a waterfall in Skaftafell National Park in Iceland, and is one of the most popular sights in the park. It is surrounded by dark lava columns, which gave rise to its name. Other well-known columnar jointing formations are seen at the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, Devil's Tower in Wyoming, USA and on the island of Staffa in Scotland.

The base of this waterfall is noteworthy for its sharp rocks. New hexagonal column sections break off faster than the falling water wears down the edges. These basalt columns have provided inspiration for Icelandic architects, most visibly in the Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavík, and also the National Theatre.

13. Hexagon Pool, Israel

The Hexagon Pool is a natural pool in the Meshushim Reserve, part of the Yehudiya Forest Nature Reserve, in central Golan Heights. The pool, at the bottom of a canyon, is named in reference to the shape of the hexagonal basalt pillars that make up its walls.

A cascade of water, such as a waterfall, created the pool. The walls are columns of basalt in angular formations that appear man-made. The columns reach a height of approximately 5 metres (16 ft), and most have five or six sides. The diameter of each column is between 30 and 40 centimetres (1.0 and 1.3 ft). The water temperature rarely exceeds 18 °C (64 °F), even in summer.

14. Cape Stolbchaty, Russia

Cape Stolbchaty in the state of Sakhalin, Russia is famous for its columnar basalt formations, which are strikingly similar to the Giant's Causeway in County Antrim in Northern Ireland.

This natural wonder is formed out of thousands of rock columns that sometimes, under the pressure of the elements come tumbling down, breaking to pieces and forming piles that resemble firewood.