Thursday, 8 November 2018

Saturday, 27 October 2018

RHACOLEPIS BUCCALIS

Rhacolepis Buccalis, an extinct genus of ray-finned fossil fish in carbonate concretion, Lower Cretaceous, Santana Formation, Brazil. These nektonic carnivores swam our ancient seas 122-109 million years ago.

Le premier et unique géoparc mondial UNESCO est situé dans le Cariri du Ceará (géoparc Araripe), dans l'intérieur semi-aride de la région Nordeste, Brésil

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Sunday, 21 October 2018

INOCERAMUS VANCOUVERENSIS

The late Cretaceous bivalve Inoceramus vancouverensis found in concretion amongst the grey shales of the Northumberland Formation, Campanian to the lower Maastrichtian, part of the upper Cretaceous, from Collishaw Point (called Boulder Point by the locals), northwest side of Hornby Island, southwestern British Columbia.

This fellow is found amongst ammonites, baculites and other bivalve fossils. Most of the fossils found at this locality are in concretions rolled smooth by time and tide.

There are also some very tasty extant oysters on the beach, occasional orcas swimming past and stunning views.

A new species of new species of pterosaur (flying reptile) Gwawinapterus beardi was found on the same beach site and named after Graham Beard, a local collector, author and great friend

My first trips to Hornby were with Graham and his lovely wife, Tina. Lovely folk.

The late Cretaceous bivalve Inoceramus vancouverensis found in concretion amongst the grey shales of the Northumberland Formation, Campanian to the lower Maastrichtian, part of the upper Cretaceous, from Collishaw Point (called Boulder Point by the locals), northwest side of Hornby Island, southwestern British Columbia. This fellow is found amongst ammonites, baculites and other bivalve fossils.

A new species of pterosaur (flying reptile) Gwawinapterus beardi was found on the same beach site and named after Graham Beard, a local collector, author and great friend.

My first trips to Hornby were with Graham and his lovely wife, Tina Beard​. Lovely folk! I don't have a photo of the inoceramus I found on that trip handy, but will post. It's the size of a dinner plate and had another tucked perfectly inside.

A fun fact about modern or extant bivalves is their life span. Some are among the longest-lived species in the world. In 2007, scientists discovered a species (Arctica islandica) specimen that was between 405 and 410 years old. Apparently you can date clams the way you date trees by counting their ring bands. Who knew?

We've got 160 year old geoducks living in Puget Sound. Giant clams live some 150 years while cold seep clams don't even reach maturity until they are 100 plus. Most species live between three and 10 years with tastier ones having a shorter life span and an affinity for garlic butter.

If you're heading to Hornby, you'll want to plan your trip with the ferry schedule and best low tides. The fossils are found on the foreshore and into the waterline. The hike down from the parking area can be a bit tricky for wee ones, particularly after heavy rain.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

CALYCOCERAS TARRANTENSE

Calycoceras Tarrantense, Cretaceous (95 M years ago) from Tarrant County, Arlington, Texas.

95 million years ago, during the late Cretaceous, a shallow seaway separated North America into separate eastern and western landmasses. We have a pretty complete picture in the fossil record of the western groups of species but relatively little in comparison for their cohorts in the east.

At the time this fellow was swimming our ancient seas, he was sharing the Earth with carnivorous dinosaurs, duck-billed dinosaurs, mammals, crocodilians, turtles, a variety of amphibians, prehistoric bony fish, oddly prolific sea cucumbers, various invertebrates and plants. Many of these sites are just being written up now and contain new species just being discovered.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

JURASSIC BOUNTY

This Jurassic ammonite is from an all but inaccessible site in Sayward, Bonanza Group, Vancouver Island.

By the time these ammonites were being buried in sediment, Wrangellia, the predominately volcanic terrane that now forms Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands, had made its way to the northern mid-latitudes.

Within the basal part of the sequence, sedimentary beds are found interbedded with lapilli and crystal-tuffs. They include maroon tuffaceous sandstone, orange-grey sandstone, granule sandstone and conglomerate. Ammonites are found alongside gastropods and pelecypods. The Bonanza group is estimated to be at least 1000 metres thick.

We did a fossil field trip up there a few years ago. The site is quite small and the window to collect was limited so we were keen to see what had been exposed.

The drive up the mountain was thrilling as there had just been heavy rains and the road was washed out and narrowed until it was barely the width of our wheel base and then narrower further to be just shy of the width of the vehicle -- thrilling to say the least.

So scary that my passengers all got out as there was a good chance of going over the edge. I was going by some hand written notes and a wee map on a napkin that should have read, "park at the bottom and hike up," Ah, glorious fossils.

Graham Beard from Qualicum Beach was the fellow who showed me the site and drew the wee map for me. I cannot recall everyone on the trip, but Perry Poon was there (he shot a video of the drive up that he described as thrilling. I've never seen it but would like to one day) and so was Patricia Coutts with her lovely doberman. She and I had just done a trip up to Goldbridge where the cliff we were on had turned into a landslide into a ravine so she was feeling understandably cautious about the power of Mother Nature.

As I recall, I wasn't in my ordinary vehicle but a rental because my car had been stolen the weekend I'd headed to Jurassic Point to visit fossil sites with John Fam and Dan Bowen. Fortuitous really, as they stole my car but I'd unloaded my precious fossil collecting gear out of the trunk the day before.

Picture the angle, the hood of my jeep riding high and hiding what remained of the road beneath and a lovely stick shift that made you roll backwards a wee bit with every move to put it into gear. So, without being able to see the very narrow path beneath, I had to just keep going.

Both Perry and Patricia helped with filling in the pot holes so my tires would have something to grip. I bent the frame on the jeep heading up and had some explaining to do when I returned it to the car rental place.

The Memekay site yielded a mix of ammonites, gastropods and bivalves. Many of them poorly preserved.

Once up, I had to drive the whole thing again back down. Solo, as no one wanted to chance it. But well worth the effort as we found some great fossils and with them more information on the paleontology and geology of Vancouver Island.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Sunday, 2 September 2018

BURGESS, WALCOTT & WAVING CAMBRIAN WORMS

High up in the Canadian Rockies in an area known as Burgess Pass is one of the most unlikely, perfect and improbably fossil sites on Earth.
Paleontologists and fossil enthusiasts agree that British Columbia has some of the important fossil localities in the world. We are blessed with beautiful, accessible abundant strata and a committed fossil community.

It is easy to forget sometimes just how lucky we are. One of the most amazing fossil sites in the world is in our backyard. The Burgess Shale, a Middle Cambrian site high up (a mighty 2,286 metres above sea level) in a glacier-carved cliff  in Yoho National Park is one of those amazing sites.

The fine-grained shales that make up the Burgess were once part of the ancient landmass known as Laurentia, the ancient geologic core of the North American continent, and are home to some of the most diverse and well-preserved fossils in the world. The sedimentary shales here contain fossils that open a window to marine life some 508 million years ago.

The site is made up of a few quarries and includes the Stephen Formation (Mount Wapta and Mount Field) and the upper Walcott quarry with it’s Phyllopod Bed. There is also a lower quarry named for Professor Piercy Raymond who opened the site in 1924.

It is one of the rare locations in the world where both soft tissues and hard body parts have been fossilized amidst the layers of black shale that form Fossil Ridge and the surrounding areas.
Discovered 109-years ago in 1909 by Charles D. Walcott, the site has continues to wow scientists and the community at large year after year. Charles was in Canada after losing is first wife to a train crash in Connecticut. He met Mary Morris Vaux, an amateur naturalist from a wealthy family and this new love and her interest in the wilds of Canada had brought him back.

Walcott was a geologist, paleontologist and administrator of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, USA. He was an expert in Cambrian fossils for his time. A company man, he joined the US Geological Survey in 1879 and rose to become a director in 1894.  He served as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1923 and was an advisor to President Theodore Roosevelt.

Picture the world at this time. Coca-Cola sold their first soft drink, in Germany, Wilhelm Roentgen developed the first x-ray and it was a year before the United States Supreme Court ruled that "separate but equal" public facilities for whites and blacks ought to be legal.

So, up and coming Walcott was up exploring in the Rockies and stopped to rest his horse. Always a rock man, he had his hammer handy and split some likely blocks. They contained trilobites and other arthropods now famous from the site.

While he recognized the significance of the site, it wasn’t until 1960 through the work of Alberot Simonella that the Burgess received the interest it deserved. Charles had a lot on his plate and Simonella picked up the slack nicely.

In 1967, Harry Whittington initiated the Cambridge Project to open up the files and build on the work of his predecessors. He brought two grad students on board (keen but a dime a dozen!) to do the heavy lifting as a means to publish or perish. Both Simon Conway Morris (Worms) and Derek Briggs (Arthropods) completed the trio and the foundation for some serious study finally got underway.
Imagine being Walcott -- his wonder at holding the predecessors of all life in his hands. Seeing the detail. Wondering at the strange and unlikely creatures made real before his eyes. It’s mind-blowing. It is a rare thing to see soft-bodied organisms fossilized. We see this kind of exquisite preservation in the limestones of Solnhofen, Germany, but globally, the occurrence is rare.

Technology has amped up the wow factor and increased our ability to view this ancient past through the use of advanced imaging. Things we’ve only dreamt of are now real. We’ve been able to see nervous systems and discrete organs through this lens.

Every year, a new species or magnificent specimen is unearthed. In 2011, a hiker discovered a rare fossil of Ovatiovemis, a genus of filter-feeding lobopodians. Picture a marine worm with nine arms waving to you. Yep, that’s him. The specimen she found is now described as Ovatiovermis cribratus and is one of only two known specimens of Oviatiovermis from the Burgess.

This important site in the Canadian Rockies has been awarded protection as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1981) in recognition of the exceptional fossil preservation and diversity of the species found here.

The Burgess Shale contains the best record we have of Cambrian animal fossils. It reveals the most complete record of creatures we have who proliferated the Earth after the Cambrian explosion 545 to 525 million years ago. It was a time of oceanic life. The land was all but inhospitable, barren and uninhabited. Great soft fine-grained mudslides slid onto an ecosystem in a deep-water basin. Millions of years later, this unlikely event was revealed through the fossils preserved in the Burgess. Burgess is unmatched but a fossil find in Kootenay National Park, about 42 kms to the south, gives it a strong run for it’s money. More on that in another post.

Photo Credit: Keith Schengili-Roberts
CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1585076

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Friday, 31 August 2018

HETTANGIAN AMMONITES

Alsatites proaries, Photo Source: Wikipedia
At the end of the Rhaetian (part of the Triassic period), most of the ammonites had died out.

The Hettangian, a rather poorly understood 3 million year time interval followed the Triassic-Jurassic mass extinction event.

During the Hettangian, the new or  Neoammonites developed quite quickly. Within a million years, a fairly large, diverse selection of genera and species had risen to fill the void. It is the time in our geologic history that the smooth shelled ammonite genus Psiloceras first appears.

It spans the time between 201.3 ± 0.2 Ma and 199.3 ± 0.3 Ma (million years ago). For my European friends, the Hettangian is the time span in which the marine limestone, shales and clay Lias of western Europe were deposited.

This Hettangian ammonite, Alsatites proaries, is a lovely example of the cephalopods cruising our ancient oceans at that time. They would have been swimming in the same seas, and being eaten occasionally, by Temnodontosaurus, a long, slender, large-eyed ichthyosaur.

Alsatites is an extinct genus of cephalopod belonging to the Ammonite subclass. They lived during the Early Jurassic, Hettangian till the Sinemurian and are generally extremely evolute, many whorled with a broad keel. Or, as described by one of my very young friends, he looks like a coiled snake you make in pottery class.

He does, indeed.

In British Columbia, we see the most diverse middle and late Hettangian (Early Jurassic) ammonite assemblages in the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii), an archipelago about 50 km off BC’s northern Pacific coast.

In total, 53 ammonite taxa are described of which Paradasyceras carteri, Franziceras kennecottense, Pleuroacanthites charlottensis, Ectocentrites pacificus and Curviceras haidae are new.

In general, North American Early Jurassic ammonites are of Tethyan affinity or endemic to the eastern Pacific. For this reason a separate zonation for the Hettangian and Sinemurian of the Western Cordillera of North America was established. Taylor et al. (2001), wrote up and published on much of this early research though, at the time, very little Canadian information was included.

Since then, Dr. Louise Longridge (Longridge et al. (2006) made significant changes to the upper Hettangian and lower Sinemurian zones based on a detailed study of the Badouxia fauna from Taseko Lakes. As part of her thesis, she studied the Queen Charlotte fauna to help draw comparisons and update the literature.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

EOCENE FOSSIL FEATHER

Fossils from the Okanagan highlands, an area centred in the Interior of British Columbia, provide important clues to our ancient climate.

While the area is referred to as the Okanagan, the term is used in a slightly misleading fashion to describe an arc of Eocene lakebed sites that extend from Smithers in the north, down to the fossil site of Republic Washington, in the south. The grouping includes the fossil sites of Driftwood Canyon, Quilchena, Allenby, Tranquille, McAbee, Princeton and Republic.

These sites range in time from Early to Middle Eocene, and the fossil they contain give us a snapshot of what was happening in this part of the world because of the varied plant fossils they contain.

McAbee had a more temperate climate, slightly cooler and wetter than other Eocene sites to the south at Princeton, British Columbia and Republic and Chuckanut, Washington.

We see ginko, a variety of insects and fish remains, the rare feather and a boatload of mashed deciduous material. Missing are the tropical Sabal (palm), seen at Princeton and the impressive Ensete (banana) and Zamiaceae (cycad) found at Republic and Chuckanut, Washington.

This wee feather was collected on a trip many years back and is one of three I’ve been lucky enough to find at the site. I'll always have a soft spot for McAbee as it was one of the first fossil sites that I ever brought my Mom and sister to.

Both were patient and keen and must have showed me a thousand rocks, asking each time, "is this a fossil?"

My first trips up there were as a teenager, years before Dave Langevin and John Leahy came to the site. Once they did a whole new world opened up with their efforts. Much of the overburden was removed and new exposures revealed. John also used to leave a jeep at the base of the hill with a bit of gas in it that we'd hot wire and use to avoid the hike heading up and pack down fossils heading back. Good man, John.

The area usually referred to as McAbee is located just east of Cache Creek, just north of and visible from Highway 1/97. 14.5 km to be exact and exactly the distance you need to drink one large coffee and then need a washroom. I've measured. There are telltale hoodoos on the ridge to let you know you've reached the right spot.

The site is part of an old lake bed which was deposited about 50 million years ago. The fossil site is the most diverse known in British Columbia for plants and insects of the Eocene Epoch. The McAbee beds are known worldwide for their incredible abundance, diversity and quality of fossils.

The site is now closed to collecting (except by access via research permit) as it received official heritage designation in July of 2012 and many of the fossils found there (particularly those found by John Leahy and Dave Langevin (both now passed) are now in the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, British Columbia.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Monday, 30 July 2018

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Saturday, 14 July 2018

GLACIAL FJORD: SEA TO SKY















A short 90-minute drive north of the city of Vancouver, the nation's gateway to the Pacific, is a recreational Shangri-La that attracts four season adventurers from around the globe to ski, board, hike, mountain bike, kayak and climb the local peaks.

It also attracts professional photographers, and weekend warriors, eager to capture the lively footprint of the village or the perfect stillness in nature. This Saturday, it was the destination of one of my new colleagues, Richard, armed with a camera in his pocket to shoot the scenes that took his fancy. A keen thesis editor and some unpredictable rain dampened those plans.

The North Shore mountains, Grouse, Cypress and Seymour, provide easy access for the happy winter adventurer and a beautiful backdrop to the young city of Vancouver -- Canada's third-largest metropolis, year-round.

They also bring us some of the rainiest, snowiest, coldest and windiest climates in Canada. Combined with the westerly winds off of the Pacific, those lovely peaks make for a panoply of weather extremes on any given day.

Certainly, not as cold as in recent past. And not as warm as millions of years ago. Ice cores tell tales of the ebb and flow of temperatures in this part of the world. Rock cores and sedimentary deposits tell other tales.

While the city sits on relatively young sandstone and mudstone, the North Shore Mountains are made of granite that formed deep within the Earth more than 100 million years ago. There are Cretaceous outcrops of sedimentary rock just off Taylor Way at Brother's Creek that reveals familiar fossilized plant material. Species common in the Cretaceous and still extant today.

This treasure trove wilderness playground stretches along the breathtaking Sea-to-Sky Highway affording breathtaking views of the Pacific as it follows the coastline of Howe Sound, a glacially carved fiord which extends from Horseshoe Bay (20 km northwest of Vancouver), past Lions Bay to the hamlet of Squamish.

It is a short jaunt further north that takes you into picturesque Whistler Valley.

Carved from the granitic mountainside high above Howe Sound, this scenic pathway, blasted into the rock of the steep glacial-valley slope, has been a rich recreation corridor and traditional First Nation hunting ground.

The ground you move over has seen oceans rise and fall, glaciers advance and retreat, the arrival of early explorers, the miners of the Gold Rush and now the rush of tourism.



Friday, 6 July 2018

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD

Audaces fortuna iuvat
Ursus curious! A young Black Bear (Ursus americanus) cub checks out a frisky, startled Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis) both native species in southern British Columbia. Generally, the aroma from a skunk is enough of a deterrent to keep curiosity at bay. Not in this case.

Bear cubs are known for being playful. They usually stick pretty close to Mamma but sometimes an intriguing opportunity for discovery will cross their path and entice them to slip away just for a few minutes to check it out.

The karma gods were good to this wee one. Nobody was skunked in this quest for exploration, though not for lack of trying.

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Monday, 2 July 2018

TOPSY TURVY: PROCYON LOTOR

A wee babe finds his world upside down. I have a raccoon friend who lives in the base of the trees behind my place. He was the runt of last year's litter.

Everything you've read about them falls short of this wee fellow. While meant to be nocturnal, he's out in the day. I've read that they are shy and avoid human contact, but he's playful, curious and would love to be social. While sitting on my deck, he'll slowly sneak up to check out what I'm doing.

I've seen him roll around in the flowerbed in full sun, clearly loving his time, sit up to examine his toes for 30-40 minutes at a time. I've read somewhere that they are bright little fellas, and it's true for this guy. He's figured out how to get the unlockable compost container unlocked and harvested for all it's tasty, rotten veggies. Mmmm, quite a charmer!

Sunday, 1 July 2018

HAPPY CANADA DAY

Happy Canada Day. Someone cue the beaver. This fellow was having a tasty snack of fresh dandelions by the side of the road. Completely uninterested in my approach or paparazzi moment he just munched away. Must get that all the time...

Thursday, 14 June 2018

TERRACOTTA WARRIORS

The Terracotta Army is a collection of more than 7,000 life-size figures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, First Emperor of China, set in military formation found in an archaeological excavation near Xi'An, Shaanxi Province, China.

Monday, 11 June 2018

WASH ON, WASH OFF

If you were a fish living in the warm turquoise waters off the coast of Bonaire, you may not hear those words, but you'd see the shrimp sign language equivalent. It seems Periclimenes yucatanicus or Spotted Cleaner Shrimp is doing a booming business in the local reefs by setting up a fish washing service.

That's right, a Fish Wash. You'd be hard pressed to find a terrestrial Molly Maid with two opposable thumbs as studious and hardworking as this wee marine beauty.

This quiet marine mogul is turning out to be one of the ocean's top entrepreneurs. Keeping its host and diet clean and green, the spotted shrimp hooks up with the locals, in this case, local sea anemones and sets up a fish wash. Picture a car wash but without the noise and teenage boys. The signage posted is the shrimps' natural coloring which attracts fish from around the reefs.

Wash on, wash off.

Once within reach, the shrimp cleans the surface of the fish, giving the fish a buff and the shrimp its daily feed.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Sunday, 3 June 2018

CaCO3 + CO2 + H2O → Ca (HCO3)2

 
Those of you who live near the sea understand the compulsion to collect shells. They add a little something to our homes and gardens.

With a strong love of natural objects, my own home boasts several stunning abalone shells conscripted into service as both spice dish and soap dish.

As well as beautiful debris, shells also played an embalming role as they collect in shell middens from coastal communities. Having food “packaging” accumulate in vast heaps around towns and villages is hardly a modern phenomenon.

Many First Nations sites were inhabited continually for centuries. The discarded shells and scraps of bone from their food formed enormous mounds, called middens. Left over time, these unwanted dinner scraps transform through a quiet process of preservation.

Time and pressure leach the calcium carbonate, CaCO3, from the surrounding marine shells and help “embalm” bone and antler artifacts that would otherwise decay. Useful this, as antler makes for a fine sewing tool when worked into a needle. Much of what we know around the modification of natural objects into tools comes from this preservation.

Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound that shares the typical properties of other carbonates. CaCO3 is common in rocks and shells and is a useful antacid for those of you with touchy stomachs. In prepping fossil specimens embedded in limestone, it is useful to know that it reacts with stronger acids, releasing carbon dioxide: CaCO3(s) + 2HCl(aq) → CaCl2(aq) + CO2(g) + H2O(l)

For those of you wildly interested in the properties of CaCO3, may also find it interesting to note that calcium carbonate also releases carbon dioxide on when heated to greater than 840°C, to form calcium oxide or quicklime, reaction enthalpy 178 kJ / mole: CaCO3 → CaO + CO2.

Calcium carbonate reacts with water saturated with carbon dioxide to form the soluble calcium bicarbonate. Bone already contains calcium carbonate, as well as calcium phosphate, Ca2, but it is also made of protein, cells and living tissue.

Decaying bone acts as a sort of natural sponge that wicks in the calcium carbonate displaced from the shells. As protein decays inside the bone, it is replaced by the incoming calcium carbonate, making makes the bone harder and more durable.

The shells, beautiful in their own right, make the surrounding soil more alkaline, helping to preserve the bone and turning the dinner scraps into exquisite scientific specimens for future generations.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Monday, 30 April 2018

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Thursday, 5 April 2018

AMMONITE BEAUTY

Varying in size from millimeters to meters across, ammonites are prized as both works of art and index fossils helping us date rock. The ammonites were cousins in the Class Cephalopoda, meaning "head-footed," closely related to modern squid, cuttlefish and octopus. Cephalopods have a complex eye structure and swim rapidly. The ones shown here are from a Sinemurian site I visited a few years back high up in the Canadian Rockies.

Ammonites used these evolutionary benefits to their advantage, making them successful marine predators. I shared some ammonites with my wee paleontologist cousins this weekend, Madison and Melaina. They were impressed with the amazing range of species and body styles. Their favorites were the ones from Alberta and England with their original mother of pearl still intact.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Friday, 16 March 2018

LATE OLIGOCENE SOOKE FORMATION

Desmostylus, Royal Ontario Museum Collection
The late Oligocene Sooke Formation outcrops at several coastal localities along the South-west coast of Vancouver Island. The most well-known and most collected of these are the exposures to the west of Muir Creek.

The formation contains marine fossils including a diversity of intertidal and near shore gastropods, bivalves, abundant barnacle (Balanus) plates, and rare coral, echinoid (sand dollar) and mammal (Desmostylus) fossils.

When these fossils were laid down, the Northeastern Pacific had cooled to near modern levels and the taxa that were preserved as fossils bear a strong resemblance to those found living today beneath the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In fact, many of the Sooke Formation genera are still extant.

We find near shore and intertidal genera such as Mytilus (mussels) and barnacles, as well as more typically subtidal predatory globular moon snails, surf clams (Spisula, Macoma), and thin, flattened Tellin clams.

In several places, there are layers thickly strewn with fossils, suggesting that they were being deposited along a strand line. The rock is relatively coarse-grained sandstone, suggesting a high energy environment as would be found near a beach.

The outcrops at Muir Creek make for a great day trip. This is a family friendly site best enjoyed and collected at low tide.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Sunday, 21 January 2018

GIANT'S CAUSEWAY: NORTHERN IRELAND

The Giant's Causeway is a spectacular expanse of interlocking hexagonal basalt columns formed from volcanic eruptions during the Paleocene some 50-60 million years ago.

Highly fluid molten basalt intruded through chalk beds which later cooled, contracted and cracked into hexagonal columns, creating a surreal visual against a dark and stormy Irish Sea.