Ministry for Gozo seeks further advice on the Azure Window
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In August 2006 The Ministry for Gozo announced that it had commissioned a geological investigation on the structural stability of the Azure Window at Dwejra.
At that time the Ministry said that “in recent years it has been noticed that the rock forming the Azure Window is increasingly being eroded, and this process has progressed considerably.”
The Ministry also said that “although erosion is a natural process which in normal circumstances would be left to take its natural course, the loss of this landmark would have considerable negative impact on the island’s tourism industry. For this reason, the Ministry has sought expert advice on whether it is possible to intervene in order to limit the damage being progressively incurred by this rock formation and thus slow down the damage on the Azure Window.”
Bureau Veritas Consulting Limited from the UK was appointed by the Ministry for Gozo to carry out the investigations required and carried out a site survey from both the land and the sea. Underwater video footage of the rock formations around the Azure Window was also taken by a local company, which was provided free of charge.
The Ministry has said that the consultation by Bureau Veritas amounted to approximately €3,300.
In 2007, Bureau Veritas said that “The Dwejra Arch, like all sea arches, was created by waves moving against a rocky surface and wearing away the weakest rocks. With time, so much rock will be destroyed that the arch will collapse. The Ministry for Gozo wants to keep its important tourist attraction standing for as long as possible. This will give it time to promote other great natural features of the site, such as an attraction known as Fungus Rock, before it eventually loses its arch.”
Andrew Coleman one of the team of engineering geologists from Bureau Veritas UK began by conducting a survey of the arch area. “A close visual inspection was carried out, followed by a survey to determine the orientation of the fractures in the arch to determine how the arch was collapsing. This information was then used to decide how to delay the collapse and where the most urgent work needs to start,” the company said.
After inspection, Bureau Veritas said that it “proposed carrying out most work from the top of the arch. This will be safer for contractors working on the site, as the most hazardous areas are found below the arch. It will also make the job less costly to complete. And of course tourists will still be able to enjoy their views, as the area where the work will take place is not visible to the public.”
Bureau Veritas said that it has “worldwide expertise in rock stabilization. It has worked on some of the world’s most well known sites, including the White Cliffs of Dover in the south of England. It also benefits from a good local reputation in Malta, having already helped protect other sites like the Grand Harbour Cliffs. The firm is proud to be able to give nature a helping hand to preserve the most beautiful sites in the world.”
The Minister for Gozo said yesterday in Parliament when the full details report from the company was tabled, “that as the collapse of the arch is inevitable, with remedial measures to delay it considered as too dangerous, then no action had been taken.”
The Ministry for Gozo said that it is also going to seek expert advice from a local geologist to see if any remedial measures could be taken against the natural process of the erosion.