Dwejra arch will perish, geologist calls for heritage protection

Geologist Peter Gatt’s report into the stability of the Azura Window states that such a geological formation will eventually succumb to the elements and rock fall.

Environment minister Leo Brincat, and Peter Gatt, at the presentation of the Dwejra stability report
Environment minister Leo Brincat, and Peter Gatt, at the presentation of the Dwejra stability report

Lovers of the sister isle will find this news unsurprising, but a new report into the stability of the Azure Window at Dwejra in Gozo has confirmed that the picturesque natural arch is a short-lived geological feature: in a nutshell, its collapse is now inevitable.

Geologist Peter Gatt's new report, commissioned by the ministry for the environment and sustainable development, has confirmed that dangers from the rock fall along the sides of the arch are imminent as pictures dating from 1981 show the clear deterioration of the arch resulting from rock fall.

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The pillar of the window has also experienced mass failure of a large triangular slab back in April 2012. Although the width of the arch remains stable, the release of this slab has reduced the mass of the pillar.

"The present level of protection afforded by the Natura 2000 designation is more concerned with wildlife protection may not give sufficient importance and conservation status to geological features described in this report. In view of the exceptional geological features at Dwejra, the area should be declared a geopark, a unified area with geological heritage of international significance," Gatt said in his report.

The geologist has recommended that crack meters are installed at the Azure Window to monitor monthly cracks along the arch, and that navigation and swimming under and around the window remain prohibited.

Gatt said that rock bolts to secure the arch are not recommendable. Instead small rock bolts at the edge of the arch that is prone to rock fall could be installed, although this intervention could be dangerous.

"The Dwejra and Azure Window area should be reconsidered, in light of new findings in this report, as a candidate for listing as a UNESCO world heritage site.

"The area should be declared a geopark, thereby protecting the geological features of the area. Information on the geological features and processes that formed them should be displayed on boards in public view in the vicinity of the relevant features."

Let it fall! All things must die! Don't waste money prolonging the agony The arch will simply be replaced by a stack, in itself a thing of beauty and this natural process will not compromise the integrity of the Natura 2000 site.