• Hopewell Rocks' famous Elephant Rock has partially collapsed. (Photo: Kevin Snair/The Hopewell Rocks)

One of Canada’s classic landmarks–the Bay of Fundy’s Hopewell Rocks–has been forever changed following the partial collapse of one of its most iconic cliff formations.

For millions of years, Elephant Rock has stood as the world’s highest tides slowly eroded it into its flowerpot shape, with narrow bottom and wide top That is, until the morning of March 14, when the rock sheared down the middle and around 100 to 200 tonnes of rock tumbled to the ocean floor and onto nearby Sea Cave Rock.

Elephant Rock, so named for its protruding rock trunk (which collapsed in 1997 from erosion), is one of 17 formations at Hopewell Rocks. It is best known for being featured on New Brunswick’s Medicare cards.

"The last time we saw a fall of this magnitude was the collapse of Castle Rock in 2002," says Kevin Snair, the supervisor of interpretive services at the Hopewell Rocks and author of the book Bay of Fundy's Hopewell Rocks.

“The cliff formations are never 100 per cent safe but are even more dangerous this time of year,” he explains in a post on The Hopewell Rocks’ Facebook page. The spring brings warmer days but still-chilly nights, and those fluctuating temperatures can cause a cycle of freezing and melting within the rock’s fissures, which weakens the overall structure.

Although the news is sad it is not entirely unexpected, and, as Snair writes: “The collapse alters a certain dynamic, but who knows what may emerge from what at first glance looks like nothing more than rubble.”