The islands of the world are a stunningly beautiful place to explore, no matter how you choose to experience them. The Aran Islands, off the western coast of Ireland in Galway Bay, have long been known for their remarkable limestone landscape. Limestone is by far the most abundant rock type found on the Aran Islands, accounting for over 96% of all rocks found on Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer.
Whether it be by plane, boat or simply hiking, the natural beauty of the islands is one that will leave you in awe. From towering sea cliffs and rocky outcroppings to sandy beaches and sweeping views, these dreamy destinations are home to some of the most breathtaking sights on the planet.
Take a hike along the rugged coastlines of the Aran Islands to take in some of those stunning views from above. The waves crashing against jagged rocks below as far as the eye can see paints a picture that can only be described as mesmerizing. Then there’s also something about being able to stand on top of a cliff and look down at all that blue water that is absolutely breathtaking.
Limestone is an important geological feature of the Aran Islands, located off the west coast of Ireland. These three rocky islands are composed of some 350 million year old limestone rock formations, which were formed in ancient shallow waters as a result of compressed shells and other marine life that accumulated over time forming sedimentary layers.
A fascinating aspect of these limestone outcrops is the presence of shallow caves. These caves are an important part of the geography and geology of these islands as they provide shelter to many species including bats, seabirds and even some butterflies. The Aran Islands also host a number of unique geological features such as sea arches, sinkholes and potholes that were created by wind-blown sand eroding away at pockets within the soft limestone structures which then form tubes or channels through which seawater can flow.
The origins behind this particular composition lie with a period called ‘the Great Calcite Crisis’ when parts Europe experienced massive shifts in climate (with decreased temperatures) accompanied by intense storms over 1 million years ago. This led to new conditions for life in waters around these islands resulting in dense beds of calcifying organisms being formed – what we call today as ‘limestones’!