Geography of Malta


  1. Rock Formation

    1. Coralline Limestone

    2. Freestone

    3. Clay

    4. Greensand

    5. Upper coralline limestone

  2. Malta Geographic Diary

  3. Soil found in Malta

  4. History of Maltese Gardens


Rock Formation

Coralline limestone

Presence : The Bottom Layer. And go high about 140m above sea level.
Quality : The hardest local rock.
Formation : Started to form about 30-25 million years ago when the Mediterranean sea bed was low. It was inhabited by the Coralline.
Where to find it : In the South-West Cliffs of Malta and at Ta' Cenc in Gozo, and where it was covered by faulting like Wied Dalam and Naxxar-Gharghur.
Color : Gray
Use : Very small bits of stone.




Presence : The second layer from bottom; above the Coralline limestone. It is divided into three layers: the bottom, the middle and the top and between any two layers, there is another thin layer of brown phosphate pebbles. Thickness vary from 23 to 207 meters.
Quality : The third in hardness but easy to brake
Formation : Started to form about 24 million years ago when the Mediterranean sea bed was low enough for the Coralline to not be able to live. Dirt started to gather in bundles, i.e. the hard shell of the maritime organics that died felt down to the bed and settled there. A layer of 200 meters was formed. During this time the bed level varied between 40 and 150 meters. This brought different tips of dirt, which formed the three layers.
Where to find it : Mostly at Imqabba, Marsaxlokk and San Lawrence (Gozo).
Color : Yellow-White
Use : Excellent for house building and decorations.




Presence : The third staff; the middle. Thickness about 9 meters. The thickest point is 65metres.
Quality : The unique layer formed by the dirt of igneous rock; non calcareous but non-porous, i.e. does not leave water to pass through it. It is important because during dry season they dig where it is found and emerge the water that is found. Gozo is more fertile because there is more clay.
Formation : New currents brought dirt and crumbs of rock that settled above the freestone.
Where to find it : It is most visible at Gozo hills, and near Fomm ir-Rih, Gnejna and Mistra.
Color : Bluish, which when exposed to elements will change to brown-gray.
Use : Pottery.




Presence : The fourth layer to form. Thickness of about a meter; the maximum is of 11 meters.
Quality : Sanded rock, easily broken.
Formation : Many currents brought bundles of sand. It was inhabited by a number animals, which some had even dig into it.
Where to find it: Gelmux Hill, Gozo.
Color : Green, which when exposed to elements change to yellow.
Use : None.



Upper coralline limestone

Presence : The last layer to form, the top layer. Thickness of about 30 meters; 162 meters near Bingemma.
Quality : The second in hardness; found in high places; layer formed from different types of rocks; rock that is slowly broken and form the red soil.
Formation : About 10 million years ago the Mediterranean sea bed was low and the Coralline started to grow as before.
Where to find it : Dingli, Mellieha, and Comino.
Color : Dark brown, reddish brown, white, crystallized.
Use : Very small bits of stone and decorations.


Geographic Diary of Malta

4,600 million years ago Earth Formation (?)
30-25 million years ago Coralline Limestone began to form.
25-10 million years ago The sea bed moved downwards, and the changes in currents and depth brought formation of another rock. (Freestone, clay, greensand and Upper Coralline limestone).
10 million years ago The sea bed moved upwards and the Maltese Islands appeared above the sea.
7-6 million years ago The Mediterranean sea formed into a lake and started to dry. Malta and Sicily united.
5 million years ago The Mediterranean was joint again with the Atlantic Ocean and Malta became an island again.
2million - 10 thousand years ago Ice age. Long time raining. Pre-history deposits, like Ghar Dalam, started to form.
10 thousand years ago Ice Age ended. Climate changed to a dry one. Living things that lived here were completely vanished.
7 thousand years ago The first people arrived at Malta; cultivation of land started and the introduction of domestic animals.
2,100 years ago End of Pre-history of Malta; arrive of Phoenicians and information started to be kept written.



Soil found in Malta

3 Types

Color Type of Rock Fertization level Tonality Lime level Formation state Frequency
Red Upper Coralline limestone Most Darkest Least Not Forming anymore Rare
Brown Freestone Medium Dark Medium Is still forming Most Common
White Clay Least Light Most Is still forming Common



History of Maltese Gardens

5000-4000 BC The first people to come to Malta were probably Sicilian farmers or shepherds. They cut areas from the wood for farming.
3800 BC Introduction of goats in Malta; 'deforestation agents'.
3600-2200 BC Temples builders arrived. They build their roofs with olive wood, Judas wood and Common ash. Wood used mostly for buildings, fire, tools, arms and furniture.
1930 BC Bronze age. The Tarxien Temples roofed with Aleppo pines, fire wood used to melt bronze. The Maltese Wood contained Holm oak, Aleppo pines, olive trees and Judas trees.
800-2 BC Phoenicians, Carthaginians and Romans occupied Malta. All the three were great naval forces with many wood galleys. We know that the Romans had destroyed the Moroccan forest (that is that even the Maltese Wood).
To 900 AD Famous Maltese Pirates. Where there trees good for Galley building?
870-1120 Arabs imported Citrus Trees. After they cut out the trees of the island, like the Judas Tree, they left the Citrus Trees in watered valleys.
1530-1798 *Saint John Order. About 50,000 Olive Trees where cut for cotton.

*In 1529, a report by the Order was done saying the Malta is an 'island without trees'.

*1565 The Great Siege. The Turks cut many trees for cooking, demolition of bastions, smoke.

*The Holm oak at Wardija, the Olive trees at Bidnija and the Common ash at Buskett where mature trees at the epoch.

*Building of the Valletta City, palaces, houses: roof supports, doors and windows.

*Grandmaster Lascaris (1636-57) build the Buskett: the first planted Wood.

1798 French at Malta; English up to 1964. Few planting except around Services building and Cemetery.
1957 Afforistation on the Hotba l-Bajda, Hotba tal-Marfa and Imgarr.
1961-62 Olive Trees at Has Saptan.
1969-71 Planting at Ghajn Tuffieha (Golden Bay)
1972 + Re-afforistation at Qammiegh, l-Ahrax, Mizieb, Mtarfa, Dwejra lines, Madliena, Cottonera, tas-Silg (Marsaxlokk), Ta' Qali, St. Andrews, Ghajn Tuffieha.
Recent Manikata, Ghar Lapsi and Siggiewi.