Malta’s Azure Window collapses into the ocean

The Azure Window was featured in a number of movies

Malta’s Azure Window, as seen on ‘Recreation of Thrones,’ collapses into sea

The limestone arch stood stately towards a cloudless sky, towering within the background as Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen wed (and dozens died) within the “Recreation of Thrones” collection premiere. The violent wedding ceremony might have been a fictional function of Essos, however the stone formation was something however.

Referred to as the Azure Window or Tieqa tad-Dwejra, the pure landmark jutted sharply off the 25-sq.-mile island of Gozo, one of many three forming the Maltese archipelago within the Mediterranean. Vacationers have lengthy sought a view of the putting construction, notably since its existence has all the time been fleeting.

The Azure Window has lastly closed. Throughout a robust storm on Wednesday morning, it collapsed and fell into the Mediterranean Sea.

“There was an enormous raging sea beneath the window,” Xagħra resident Roger Chessell, who witnessed the collapse, informed the Occasions of Malta. “All of a sudden, the arch collapsed into the ocean with a loud whoomph, throwing up an enormous spray. By the point the spray had pale, the stack had gone too.”

Calling it “heartbreaking,” Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat wrote on Twitter, “I’ve simply been knowledgeable that the gorgeous Tieqa tad-Dwejra in Gozo has collapsed. … Stories commissioned through the years indicated that this landmark can be arduous hit by unavoidable pure corrosion.”


“That unhappy day arrived,” he concluded.

“At this time Gozo has misplaced one among its iconic beauties,” the Gozo Tourism Affiliation wrote on Fb. “The inevitable and the a lot feared has occurred. The flagship of the Gozitan touristic websites has sunk in its similar delivery place. … The a lot promoted Azure Window is not any extra, and solely hundreds of thousands of pictures stay as testimony of this touristic spot.”

Scientists consider the ninety two-foot-tall arch, one in every of 26 within the Maltese Islands, shaped because the pounding of sea and rain water eroded the limestone under. Ultimately, it grew into the vacationer vacation spot it’s at the moment. The Gozo Tourism Affiliation estimated that eighty % of the island’s visitors visited the arch. In line with a report from the European Fee, that comes out to about 850,000 guests annually.

In 1998, it was included on a tentative listing of UNESCO world heritage websites, although it didn’t progress additional.

Ultimately, it turned a well-liked filming location, notably for mythological epics.

Along with “Recreation of Thrones,” it was featured in “Conflict of the Titans,” NBC’s “The Odyssey,” and the 2002 model of “The Rely of Monte Cristo.” It discovered its means onto the world’s iPhones as nicely, turning into one thing of a social media star. Almost 50,000 Instagram photographs are tagged with #azurewindow. Numerous extra have been geotagged there.

However it’s all the time been in danger from nature. In 2013, the Occasions of Malta revealed a narrative with the foreshadowing headline, “The Azure Window continues to be protected … for now.”

The arch was comprised of two layers of several types of limestone, as defined by Geoscience Consulting head geologist Peter Gatt. The highest layer was higher coralline limestone, which is tough-sporting, not too vulnerable to erosion. The opposite layer was blue clay limestone, which is far softer. In 2013, Gatt’s agency issued a report stating, “About ninety% of the decrease layer of rock has collapsed prior to now 30 years.”

Most of this weakening was brought on by the very erosion that created the arch, Gatt advised the Occasions of Malta. “Waves crashing towards the cliff shaped the hanging window and they’ll additionally destroy it,” he stated.

Photograph: Jonnie Atha‏

On the time, although, he was hopeful.

“It’s protected to say that the Azure Window isn’t dealing with any imminent collapse as was beforehand believed,” Gatt stated. “This nonetheless doesn’t imply it should final ceaselessly — this can be a course of.”

Final January, although, a big slab of the arch was misplaced to sea, battered by tough waves.

It didn’t assist issues that vacationers recurrently scrambled throughout it for pictures and hanging views of the Mediterranean Sea. The European Fee report said that human exercise was inflicting such accelerated erosion that “Drastic motion was important to save lots of this beloved function by the locals.”

Final month, the Maltese authorities instituted $ 2,300 fines for anybody caught climbing on the arch. However by that time it was too late. All it will take was one robust storm to ship the construction again to the ocean — and that storm arrived Wednesday.


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