Frozen amphitheater of columnar basalt walls flanking Abiqua Falls, Oregon
© Joshua Meador/Tandem Stills + Motio
Abiqua Falls in Oregon is a beautiful example of a basalt column amphitheater. Over 90 percent of all volcanic rock is basalt, but only a small fraction of it forms into the hexagonal columns that you see here. When molten lava hits the atmosphere, rapid cooling causes it to contract into these characteristic columns. It's just part of what makes Abiqua Falls so spectacular.
The waterfall is on the grounds of Mount Angel Abbey, a Benedictine monastery formed in 1882. The monastery now houses a seminary, library, retreat center, and very successful brewery. Monks and brewing have a long tradition together, with medieval monks being credited with developing the first true breweries as early as the 9th century. Lest you think the monks were just looking for a little buzz, remember that beer was such a common drink back then because water was often polluted or carried disease.