Colorado's Iconic Rabbit Ears Peak just lost a chunk of its ear

Rabbit Ears Peak looks a little different after losing a chunk of one of its ears.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, COLO. (AP) - An iconic sight near Steamboat Springs is missing something.

Rabbit Ears Peak looks a little different after losing a chunk of one of its ears.

Steamboat Pilot & Today reported Thursday the western ear of Colorado's iconic landmark is significantly skinnier and pointier following what appears to be an erosion event at the top of the rock formation.

The Rabbit Ears are remains of pyroclastic materials, which are layers of extruded rock and ash. It's a popular landmark and hiking spot for tourists and locals alike. 

Dr. Barbara EchoHawk, a professor of Geology at Metro State University, says Rabbit Ears Peak is the result of volcanic explosions from 30 million years ago. 

Check out the before and after here.

Because of the way the magma erupted in a vent from the ground, Dr. EchoHawk says there are some large and some smaller pieces of volcanic rock.

During its formation, these pieces were broken by steam eruptions, causing cracks in the rock, that eventually, naturally, will crumble and fall away as these cracks line up with other joints in the rock.

Even the rabbit ears themselves are just smaller, leftover pieces of the original formation. 

Dr. EchoHawk says more erosion can be expected in the future as the rock and its cracks freeze, thaw, freeze and thaw.

U.S. Forest Service District Ranger Chad Stewart says he made a point to look at Rabbit Ears Peak on a drive he took this week after he was informed of the possible change in the rock's appearance.

The piece that broke off was at a height that would not be easily accessible to humans.

Stewart says there are also no rock climbers permitted to operate at the rock formation, making this scenario more unlikely than natural erosion.

9NEWS has reached out to several local universities and colleges to speak to a geology expert. We will update this story as we learn more about what could have happened. 

© 2017 Associated Press


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