Malta's Famous Azure Window Arch collapses into the sea

The world is always changing, and Malta's famous Azure Window rock arch is proof of that. When strong gale force winds hit the Southern Europe location on Tuesday, it's popular limestone arch collapsed into The Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday. The beautiful Azure Window was located on Gozo island and was formally known as the Tieqa tad-Dwejra. The popular arch served as a backdrop in the first episode of the Game of Thrones HBO series along with the Clash of The Titans movie and many Instagram posts from travelers around the world. The news doesn't come as a total surprise as several reports that had been commissioned over the years indicated that the landmark would be hard hit by natural corrosion that was unavoidable, but the loss is still sad nonetheless. The Azure Window rock arch was an icon of the country’s natural beauty and will be missed.

The entire Azure Window structure, including the pillar, collapsed at around 9:40 a.m. local time on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, after heavy storms, which left no part of the arch visible above the water. The collapse of the Azure Window was reported in both local and international media around the world. The Environment and the Resources Authority called the collapse a major loss to the country's natural heritage. The Azure Window stood 92 feet tall and was a limestone natural arch on the island of Gozo in Malta. The arch was located in Dwejra Bay, within the limits of San Lawrenz, and close to both the Inland Sea and the Fungus Rock. Azure Window was one of Malta's major tourist attractions. The natural arch, together with other natural features in the location had appeared in several international films and media productions. Limestone is a sedimentary rock, composed mostly of skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral, mollusks, and forams. The major materials in limestone are the minerals calcite and aragonite. About 10 percent of sedimentary rocks in the world are limestones. Because of the solubility of limestone in water along with weak acid solutions the stone leads to karst type landscapes, in which the water erodes the limestone over thousands to millions of years. Most cave systems are through limestone bedrock.

The Azure Window was developed through the sea and rain erosion of a cliff face over a period of approximately 500 years. The natural arch was one of Malta's most popular tourist landmarks, and it was a popular background for tourist photographs. The Azure Window was included in a Special Area of Conservation, and in 1998, it the site was included on a tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The natural rock formation was created by the collapse of two sea caves and consisted of a pillar of rock that rose from the sea and joined to the cliff by a horizontal slab of rock. From the 1980s and the 2000s, parts of the top slab of the arch collapsed, significantly widening the arch. A large slab of the rock on the outer edge collapsed in April of 2012, which further increased the size of the window. Another rock fell in March of 2013. A geological and geotechnical report was prepared soon after, and it was thought that the natural arch was relatively stable and would continue to remain for some years. The report did warn however that rock falls would continue and might be hazardous for people to go close to the natural arch.

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