– why is the Giants Causeway Hexagonal Shape?



How’s does lava cool into the hexagonal shape at the giants causeway?

In: Earth Science

Well assuming it’s the same mechanism as Devils Post Pile in California (more lava hexagon columns!) it happened kinda like this:

A pocket of lava (or rather, magma because it was still underground!) got trapped under some softer rock of some kind, and just stayed there for a while, vibing~
Veeeery slooowly (because the ground is a good insulator!) that pocket started to cool down. As it cooled, because it was stable and not moving and cooling sooo slowly, it started contracting and cracking like mud sometimes does when it dries. Only because the magma pocket was deep/tall and because the conditions underground were right, instead of just having the surface-level mud cracks, those cracks went all the way down through the hot (magma) pocket and made entire columns!
And THEN, when the softer rock wore away from around the formerly-hot pocket, all those hexagonal columns were left for us to see!

But why hexagons?? Welp, this is kinda the crazy part— see, nature likes hexagons, or at least the kind of angles that make up hexagons, aka the 120degrees angle. They’re kind of a stable shape, I guess? And they fill space nicely and neatly without gaps? The exact “why” is a lil out of my understanding but maybe someone else has a better explanation for that part.
BUT ANYWAY You can see hexagon angles everywhere if you look! Things frequently just settle into that shape/angle. Looking at a dried cracked mud flat? The cracks tend to make roughly-120 angles. Looking at a cluster of soap bubbles? They all meet at 120ish degree angles. Honeycombs in beehives? 120 degree hexagons! Turtle shells? Hexagons!
Wheeee isn’t nature weird?!