Workshop 1: Island Geology and Geomorphology

 Image result for ghar il kbir

Keynote Speaker Biography – Mr Chris Gauci


Following a B.Sc. (Hons) in Earth Systems at the University of Malta and an M.Sc. in Exploration Field Geology at University College Cork in Ireland, Chris Gauci is now a geologist, currently working as a statistician specialising in GIS with the National Statistics Office. He is also a visiting lecturer teaching geology to first year students enrolled in B. Sc. (Hons.) in Earth Systems course and he also performs duties as a geology consultant in other projects. His current project is an art installation across the Maltese Islands whereby several sentences are engraved in different bedrock and then the rock’s rate of erosion is measured after different time intervals. In his spare time he enjoys collecting minerals and rocks, from large specimens to micromounts (microscopic minerals usually very rare), as well as conducting or participating in fieldworks, especially ones that are geology-based.


Workshop/Excursion Summary

  • Topic Overview:


The geology of the Maltese Islands is relatively young when considered within a geological time​ frame, with the oldest rock dating back only to the Tertiary period. The Islands are for the most part composed of marine sedimentary rocks. Although the sedimentary platform on which the Maltese Islands are situated was formed during the Triassic, there are no surface outcrops of this age. All exposed rocks were deposited during the Oligocene and Miocene periods dating back to some 30 to 35 million years ago. Consequently, the Maltese Islands, now constitute five major rock layers whose composition is dominated by limestone and clay.  Most of these layers can be clearly observed on the SW coast of the island, where most coastal cliffs are found. Just like another landmass, the geological formation of the Maltese Islands have been exposed to both mechanical and chemical weathering that have worked and shaped our landscape via geomorphological agents, mainly freshwater, wind and waves. Consequently, the Maltese landscape boasts a multitude of geomorphological features. These include arches, stacks, caves, karst plateaus, erratics, clay taluses, valley systems whose drainage flows towards the NE coast due to Malta’s natural tilt, sandy beaches, rocky bays and headlands, cliffs, boulder screes, wave cut platforms, small sand dune systems and a number of faults.


  • Workshop & Excursion


    • Learn about the formation of the Maltese Islands
    • Discuss the benefits and limitations that Maltese people experience on a daily basis due to past and ongoing geomorphological processes
    • Hike across karst plateaus and along Maltese highest cliffs in Dingli
    • Visit Malta’s largest cave, Ghar il-Kbir
    • Use Locus Map app and ArcGIS to create a geomorphological map of the area
    • Investigate anthropogenic influence on natural geomorphological features


  • No. of Participants: 20 students