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Old Pakri lighthouse also in danger of collapsing into sea

The old lighthouse at Pakri.
The old lighthouse at Pakri. Source: ERR

The sea reclaimed another piece of the Pakri Peninsula on Tuesday, when the Paldiski observation platform, which was declared a hazard a few years ago, finally collapsed. It is also believed that the old Pakri lighthouse could face a similar fate in the coming years.

"In fact, this was to be expected. This viewing platform is actually self-supporting. When Russian troops were in the city, it was a bunker for the Russian border guards, where you could go down and have a look at the sea from above," explained Jaanus Saat, mayor of Lääne-Harju Municipality.

Each such incident attracts a fair number of curious onlookers. However, according to the mayor, there are no plans to install any additional barriers, as that will not keep people away.

Olle Hints, the head of the Geological Institute and associate professor at Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) also said that what happened on Tuesday had been expected at some point, as the sea on the Pakri Peninsula reaches right up to the shore, gradually eroding the coast.

"The Pakri Peninsula is in a spot where westerly and tidal winds form very high waves. This wave activity and the high winds happens especially in the winter period," said Hints.

The lower part of the coast is formed by soft rocks including mud or sandstone, which are eroded by the sea from below.

"The sea comes up against it all the time and the ice has an effect, but when there are big storms, the softer rocks are quietly broken up from below. There is a block of limestone above, it's about a third of this height, they are stronger and don't just quietly erode. They fall off in bigger pieces," Hints said.

Hints said that on Tuesday was a relatively small collapse, amounting to just a few hundred metric tons. By comparison, in 2008, for example, it was estimated that around 20,000 metric tons fell into the sea. Over a 100-year period, the coastline has receded by almost 25 meters.

"There is an old lighthouse right on the edge of the cliff. It's several hundred years old, and we know from the literature that it was once tens of meters away from the edge of the cliff. That will probably fall into the sea in the next few years or decades," said Hints.

The new lighthouse is 100 meters from the coast, with Hints estimating that it will probably take 100 years before that is in any danger of disappearing into the sea. The observation platform, which was collapsed Tuesday, will now provide some protection for the coast from waves, at least for the time being.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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