Science

Top of famed Darwin's Arch off the Galapagos collapses

The famed Darwin's Arch in the Galapagos Islands has lost its top, and officials are blaming natural erosion of the stone.

Scientists believe natural erosion of the stone is to blame

Darwin's Arch off the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, seen on Sunday. Ecuador’s Environment Ministry reported the collapse of the top of the arch on its Facebook page the next day, blaming natural erosion of the stone. (Galapagos National Park/The Associated Press)

The famed Darwin's Arch in the Galapagos Islands has lost its top, and officials are blaming natural erosion of the stone.

Ecuador's Environment Ministry reported the collapse on its Facebook page on Monday.

The rock structure — 43 metres high, 70 metres long and 23 metres wide — is less than one kilometre from Darwin Island and is a popular spot for scuba divers. It is not accessible by land.

"Obviously all the people from the Galapagos felt nostalgic because it's something we're familiar with since childhood, and to know that it has changed was a bit of a shock," said Washington Tapia, director of conservation at Galapagos Conservancy.

"However, from a scientific point of view, it's part of the natural process. The fall is surely due to exogenous processes such as weathering and erosion which are things that normally happen on our planet."

The arch is a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

The unique flora and fauna on remote islands, some 1,000 kilometres off the coast of mainland Ecuador are famed in part for inspiring Charles Darwin's thoughts on evolution.

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