The Maltese islands, what a hold you have come to have over me! It all started at the airport last spring when we arrived on a sweltering hot night and I could sense a scent that I was not used to, at the time I did not take too much notice but later I remembered it and I got to know what it was that I could smell. It was the scent of limestone! I know this sounds a little unbelievable or impossible, but I swear by it myself. It was the start of my love affair with these islands, and it’s not only the scent – because of course that was only the first impression, later other scents took over, a variety of flowers for example.
In the light of day though, it was not the scent either that made me love this place so much, it is the limestone, the honey coloured limestone which surrounds me here, I breathe it, I see it with my eyes constantly because the houses and other buildings are all built in it, and it is so very pleasing to the eye. In fact I think it feeds one’s soul, no I am sure of it.
So after spending a month on Malta and a month on Ghawdex (Gozo) we went back to Ireland for the summer, and on the first of October we were back, we rented a flat from a very nice man, this in the heart of Ir -Rabat (Victoria). I am totally relaxed here, I probably absorb the calcium from the limestone and this is exactly what I need. (I was born and raised in the Kempen and Antwerp, a sandstone area, sandstone has its origins in quartz rock, it contains silicon. But what this has to do with the limestone here actually is nothing, it is just that I seem to be sensitive to what soil or rocks I am living on and this limestone suits me so very much, I feel happy and relaxed here. It is also the beauty of this rock type all around me, wherever I look I see the stone, and in the evening sun the stone turns to pure gold. I cannot get enough of it.
So I am trying to educate myself a little in the geology of the Maltese islands, I took out some books from the library and did out a table of the different layers of rock that are to be found here.
The lower Globigerina limestone is the stone that is mainly used as a building material, they call it Franka on Gozo. This stone is made up of a fine grain and is easily workable. It is a most beautiful stone to look at and it makes the houses, churches and buildings on Gozo very attractive. It is an easy medium to carve and this is done with great skill here.
Because this stone is soft it erodes easily too over the years. Very often fossils can be seen plainly, mainly planktonic fossils.
I am not well up in geology, therefore I cannot talk freely as I would like to do about the rock formations, but I am learning.
More examples of limestone, and carvings. Below are examples of the limestone found at the cliffs at Xlendi, magnificent to look at.
Then (below) there is an example of the blue clay rock formation, it overlies the Globigerina Limestone formation and erodes easily.
The two books that I used for information, I took them out from the library and was glad to have found them.
Alas this is my incomplete discussion on the rock formations of Gozo. There is so much more to say about these rocks.