At around 09:40 on March 8th 2017, mother nature claimed part of the Gozitan Shoreline. The famous Azure Window was lost forever. What happened to this Gozitan landmark was the last stage of a very long process that happened over hundreds of years.
The gradual breakdown of rocks due to the effects of the weather (weathering) and erosion can create caves, arches, stacks and stumps along a headland.
Caves occur when waves force their way into cracks in the cliff face. The water contains sand and other materials that grind away at the rock until the cracks become a cave. If the cave is formed in a headland, it may eventually break through to the other side forming an arch, similar to the Azure Window in Dwejra, Gozo.
Along the years, the arch gradually become bigger as weathering and erosion continued.
Normally the arch keeps getting bigger and bigger until it collapses, leaving behind the headland on one side and a stack (a tall column of rock) on the other. The stack would then be attacked at the base in the same way that a wave-cut notch is formed. This weakens the structure and it will eventually collapse to form a stump.
However, according to Maltese Geologist Dr Peter Gatt, in the case of the Azure Window, the stack or the pillar holding up the arch was the weakest part of the structure and it was the first to collapse. As a consequence of this, the whole Azure Window tumbled down into the sea at around 09:40 on March 08, 2017.
BBC GCSE BiteSize; TVM.com.mt
Featured Image: Reuters – Darrin Zammit Lupi
Old Azure Window Photo: Richard Ellis – BDL Books