A stack or sea stack is a rock formation made up of a steep or upright column or columns of rock in the sea near a coast. They are formed when part of a headland is eroded by water crashing against the rock or as a result of wind erosion. These impressive formations are intricately created by nature only through time, tide and wind. Here are 10 famous sea stack formations from around the World.
01. Dun Briste, Ireland
Dun Briste, a spectacular sea-stack, estimated to be approximately 50 metres (165ft) in height, stands 80 metres (260ft) off Downpatrick Head, in the town-land of Knockaun, east of Ballycastle, Ireland. Downpatrick Head is where the Atlantic has gouged a huge bay from the mighty cliffs and their summits scoured of all vegetation except grass by the ceaseless ocean winds.
Each year, Downpatrick is frequented by birdwatchers, who come to observe and record the many different species which take up positions on the stratified face of the stack as the seasons change. In May and early June, the headland itself is a blaze of colour when the sea-pink comes into bloom.
02. Sail Rock, Russia
Sail Rock is a natural sandstone monolith located on the shore of the Black Sea, in Krasnodar Krai, Russia. It resembles the outline of a ship’s sail, hence its name. The monolith lies 17 km (10.5mi) to the southeast of Gelendzhik, near the village of Praskoveyevka (which is about 500 meters (1,650ft) from the coast) and the farmstead of Dzhankhot (approximately twice that distance from the coast).
Sail Rock has a sheer vertical slope confronting the shore of sea, isolated from the mass of basic rock by geological forces. It is more than three-fourths revealed by the tide and lies perpendicular to the coast. What is most remarkable about this landmark is its proportions. While the cliff is only a little more than a meter (3ft) thick, its height is about 25 meters (82ft) and its length about 20 (66ft). Thus, the form of the cliff is described as resembling the outline of a quadrangular sail.
03. Old Man of Hoy, Scotland, UK
The Old Man of Hoy is a 449 feet (137m) sea stack on the island of Hoy. It is a distinctive landmark from the Thurso to Stromness ferry and was first climbed in 1966. This stack is an red sandstone stack, perched on a plinth of basalt rock. It stands close to Rackwick Bay on the west coast of the island of Hoy, in the Orkney Islands, Scotland.
The stack is probably less than 400 years old and may not get much older, as there are indications that it may soon collapse. On maps drawn between 1600 and 1750, the area appears as a headland with no sea stack. William Daniell, a landscape painter, sketched the sea stack in 1817 as a wider column with a smaller top section and an arch at the base, from which it derived its name. A print of this drawing is still available in local museums. Sometime in the early 19th century, a storm washed away one of the legs leaving it much as it is today, although erosion continues.
04. Risin og Kellingin, Faroe Islands
Risin og Kellingin (Risin and Kellingin) are two sea stacks just off the northern coast of the island of Eysturoy in the Faroe Islands close to the town of Eiði. The name Risin og Kellingin means The Giant and the Witch and relates to an old legend about their origins. The Giant (Risin) is the 71m (233ft) stack further from the coast, and the witch (Kellingin) is the 68m (223ft) pointed stack nearer land, standing with her legs apart.
The stacks can be viewed by walking north from Eiði then turning east towards the coast and following the low cliffs for a short way. Other good views can be had on a clear day from Tjørnuvík on the island of Streymoy. Faroese geologists predict that Kellingin, which currently stands on two legs, will fall into the sea sometime in the next few decades during the winter storms. Already part of the stack broke off at the beginning of the twentieth century.
05. Ko Tapu, Thailand
Ko Tapu is a limestone rock about 20 metres (66 ft) tall with the diameter increasing from about 4 metres (13 ft) near the water level to about 8 metres (26 ft) at the top. It lies about 40 metres (130 ft) to the west from the northern part of Khao Phing Kan (a pair of islands on the west coast of Thailand).
A scientific version of the Ko Tapu formation says that the area was a barrier reef. Then, upon tectonic movements, it ruptured, and its parts were dispersed over the area and flooded by the rising ocean. Wind, waves, water currents and tides gradually eroded the islands thus formed, sometimes producing peculiar shapes, such as Ko Tapu. Tide-related erosion is visible at the bottom of the rock.
06. Ball’s Pyramid, Australia
06. Ball’s Pyramid, Australia
Ball's Pyramid is 20 kilometres (12 mi) southeast of Lord Howe Island in the Pacific Ocean. It is 562 metres (1,844 ft) high, while measuring only 1,100 metres (3,600 ft) in length and 300 metres (980 ft) across, making it the tallest volcanic stack in the world. Ball's Pyramid is part of the Lord Howe Island Marine Park.
In 2001, a large species of insect commonly known as a tree lobster or Lord Howe Island stick insect was discovered clinging to the stack eighty years after it was believed to have gone extinct. Rats introduced to the larger islands are to blame for the six-inch insect’s demise. Scientists captured several insects to breed, which they finally did successfully, and may be introduced to the mainland.
07. Kicker Rock, Galapagos, Ecuador
Kicker Rock, also called the Sleeping Lion is a rocky formation and popular dive destination on the western side of Isla San Cristobal, the easternmost island in the Galápagos archipelago.
This gigantic rock raises 500 feet (152m) straight from the ocean and represents the remains of a lava cone, now split in two. There is a mild current that passes through the two rocks, which attracts hammerhead and Galápagos sharks. Kicker Rock is also home to a large colony of sea birds.
08. Old Harry Rocks, UK
The Old Harry Rocks are two chalk stacks located on the Dorset coast in the south of England. The rocks mark the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast. The cliffs here are mainly made up of chalk, with some bands of flint within them.
The sea stacks are continuously being eroded by the sea and are therefore an ever-changing feature. In the 18th century, people could still walk from the mainland to Old Harry, which is the stack at the end nearest to the sea. Link Map.
09. The Twelve Apostles, Australia
The Twelve Apostles is a collection of limestone stacks off the shore of the Port Campbell National Park, by the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. Their proximity to one another has made the site a popular tourist attraction.
Tourism activities (including helicopter tours) are conducted from a visitor centre, situated on the inland side of the Great Ocean Road; with parking and viewing areas. Parks Victoria classifies the structure as nationally significant, with the area being one of Victoria's major tourist features; attracting approximately two million visitors a year. Parks Victoria was responsible for the construction of board-walks, tracks, and viewing areas.
10. Tri Brata, Russia
At the entrance of Avacha Bay lies Tri Brata, a trio of scenic stacks which is considered a symbol of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the main city of Kamchatka Krai, Russia.
The name is Russian which literally means "Three Brothers". Legend has it that three brothers who went to defend a town from a tsunami turned into pillars of stone.