1 June 2021

Corinth Canal: a video of the rockfall that has left it closed since January

Posted by Dave Petley

Corinth Canal: a video of the rockfall that has left it closed since January

According to Wikipedia, the Conrinth Canal, “connects the Gulf of Corinth in the Ionian Sea with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. It cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth and separates the Peloponnese from the Greek mainland“. Built in 1893, it was for a while an important trading route within Greece.  However, it is a very narrow cut through bedrock – it is 6.4 km long but only 21.4 m wide at the base – meaning that many modern ships cannot pass through today.  Nonetheless it is an important route for smaller tourist ships.

The Corinth Canal has suffered landslide problems since its construction.  Again Wikipedia provides some detail:

Another persistent problem was the heavily faulted nature of the sedimentary rock, in an active seismic zone, through which the canal is cut. The canal’s high limestone walls have been persistently unstable from the start. Although it was formally opened in July 1893 it was not opened to navigation until the following November, due to landslides. It was soon found that the wake from ships passing through the canal undermined the walls, causing further landslides. This required further expense in building retaining walls along the water’s edge for more than half of the length of the canal, using 165,000 cubic metres of masonry. Between 1893 and 1940, it was closed for a total of four years for maintenance to stabilise the walls. In 1923 alone, 41,000 cubic metres of material fell into the canal, which took two years to clear out.

In January this year a further large rockfall occurred along the Corinth Canal. UP Stories has published an excellent video on Youtube that shows the aftermath of the rockfall, and the serious damage that it has caused:


The image below, from the video shows the damage that has occurred along the canal:

Rockfall damage on the Corinth Canal

Rockfall damage on the Corinth Canal. Still from a video posted to Youtube.


Greek Reporter has an article about the rockfall.  It seems that the collapse was caused by damage to the stone pillars supporting the slopes.  The investigation is expected to last until September, after which the remediation work will start.  The implication is that the Corinth Canal will remain close for many more months.