Ulva's terraced landscape tells the story of the island's dramatic origins. It is a landscape forged by fire and ice. About 60 million years ago, a volcanic eruption near Ben more on Mull began smothering this area with layer after layer of molten lava to a height of 6,000 feet. Many millennia later, when the lava had cooled and the dust had settled, glaciers began carving our glens and hillsides from the basalt mass. The intermittent layers of lava create our distinctive terraced landscape. The sea changed its level, leaving us our raised beaches and hanging the sea caves up on hillsides far from the sea. Gradually, weather filed off sharp edges and soil accumulated.
The basalt columns along the coast were formed when molten lava cooled and crystallised. This action is the same that formed the great columns on Staffa and the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.
Where basalt cools quickly, the resulting formations are weak and erode easily. Crumbling basalt formed much of the soil on Ulva. Thus far, man has had little effect on this very elemental landscape.