EGU Blogs

Geology Photo of the Week #17 – Jan 6-12

Happy New Year everyone! I hope that you all had relaxing and enjoyable holidays. I sure did. It is time to start off the new year with the 17th edition of the photo of the week. Here in Ottawa it is a balmy -19 degC with the wind chill making it feel like -28 degC right now! Happily I am toasty and warm inside…for now. If you’re curious the coldest place in Canada at the moment is Eureka, Nunavut at -40 degC and a windchill of -46 degC!!!

To overcome the inevitable chill you just got reading that last sentence the photo below is of a more balmy place that we can say with certainty was extremely hot at some point due to its volcanic origin. It is not obvious at first glance, but if you look a little closer you can see that the cliff the falls are pouring over is made of columnar basalt. Columnar basalt forms when a thick lava flow cools. As the flow cools, stresses build, and in order to accommodate these stresses cracks form resulting in columns with a polygonal shape. As you can see Milla Milla falls, which are located near Cairns, Queensland, are pouring over a cross section of a lava flow. By the way, the temperature in Cairns tomorrow is 33 degC!!

Milla Milla falls in the Atherton Tablelands, Queensland, Australia. (Photo: Matt Herod)

Zooming in at the Milla Milla falls to see the columnar basalt. (Photo: Matt Herod)

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for lots of a new posts in upcoming weeks!

Cheers and stay toasty my friends!


Matt Herod is a Ph.D Candidate in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada. His research focuses on the geochemistry of iodine and the radioactive isotope iodine-129. His work involves characterizing the cycle and sources of 129I in the Canadian Arctic and applying this to long term radioactive waste disposal and the effect of Fukushima fallout. His project includes field work and lab work at the André E. Lalonde 3MV AMS Laboratory. Matt blogs about any topic in geology that interests him, and attempts to make these topics understandable to everyone. Tweets as @GeoHerod.