Dramatic seaside cliffs greet a calm sea

June 10, 2014, 1 p.m.
landscape, landscape photography

Photo: Catie Leary/MNN Flickr Group

Inis Mor, Aran Islands

Yes, they're beautiful. But what is beauty without a good story to go with it? The Aran Islands with dramatic cliffs shown here have a fascinating history. Photographer Catie Leary writes, "The Aran Islands are an offshore extension of the Burren, one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe. Mostly contained within County Clare, the craggy karst hills of the Burren actually used to be the site of a tropical, calcium-rich sea about 350 million years ago. After ocean sediment formed into limestone rock, the region endured several glaciation periods (including the most recent ice age), which resulted in the gradual karstification of the surface... Today, fossils of coral, sea urchins, ammonites and other creatures can still be found in the heavily fissured landscape of the mainland Burren and the Aran Islands."

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Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.