The Montana-Yellowstone Geologic Field Guide Database
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Use this page to search our collection of educationally-useful geologic field guides and road logs in Montana and Yellowstone. You may search the database by entering a keyword to search or choosing one of the listed terms for geologic topic, geographic location, or geologic province.


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Depositional Surfaces in the Eagle Sandstone at Billings, Montana part of MT Field Guides
Marine shelf sandstones and barrier bars are commonly formed by lateral accretion of sand bodies with time lines inclined to the formation boundaries. Shelton (1965) described low-angle inclined bedding in the lowermost sandstone unit of the Eagle Sandstone at Billings, Montana. He recognized these beds as shoreface accretion surfaces of a barrier bar and likened them to those found on present-day Galveston Island, Texas. The Billings location provides an excellent opportunity to examine an important hydrocarbon reservoir rock of the Northern Rocky Mountain region.

Topics: Resources, Sedimentary rocks, Fossils
Geographic Location: South-Central Montana
Geologic Province: Montana Plains

A Study in Contrasts: Archean and Quaternary Geology of the Beartooth Highway, Montana and Wyoming part of MT Field Guides
Nowhere in the U.S. are the oldest and the most recent aspects of geology as spectacularly displayed as along the Beartooth Highway. The Beartooth Mountains are a block of largely Archean bedrock uplifted along high-angle reverse faults of Laramide age. The Precambrian rocks (3400-700 Ma) contain one of the best records of the early history of the igneous and metamorphic basement of the middle Rocky Mountains. These rocks include granulite-facies supracrustal rocks proposed as products of continental collision, calc-alkaline volcanic and plutonic rocks generated along an Archean continental margin, and mafic dikes some of which were emplaced during continental rifting. This Precambrian record encompasses at least two extensive periods of crustal evolution and records more geologic history at one location than any other place in the Wyoming Province. Descriptions of two key areas showing the fundamental relations between the Precambrian rocks are included: the Quad Creek area and the Long Lake area. The Beartooth Plateau has been extensively sculpted by glacial processes during the Pleistocene. The highway crosses a classic locality of "biscuit-board topography"–plateau remnants partially dissected by cirques–as well as deposits left by glaciers that etched the plateau. Features to be seen include glacio-fluvial terraces showing downstream effects of the glacial system and extensive areas of periglacial features that postdate glaciation. Glacial features are described from the Red Lodge area, Rock Creek Canyon, the hairpin turns, the Beartooth Plateau, and the Clark Fork basin.

Topics: Sedimentary rocks, Igneous rocks, Surficial geology, Metamorphic rocks
Geographic Location: South-Central Montana
Geologic Province: Central Rocky Mountains Foreland Province

The Stillwater Complex, Southern Montana; A Layered Mafic Intrusion part of MT Field Guides
Layered complexes provide the most visible evidence of processes of magmatic differentiation; thus, they occupy a central place in the study of igneous petrology. Such complexes are not only scientifically rewarding, they are host to several types of mineral deposits, including copper-nickel, chromium, and platinum-group elements. The Stillwater Complex is one of the world's great layered mafic intrusions, distinguished not so much by its size as by the fact that it is tilted on its side, and erosion has exposed the layering to ready access. This fieldguide presents a summary of the geology of the complex in the Benbow and Mountain View areas. The Benbow area offers easy access to a variety of rocks from the ultramafic series and chromite deposits but only limited exposures of features from the banded series. The Mountain View area offers easy access to most of the banded series and the platinum deposits.

Topics: Resources, Igneous rocks
Geographic Location: South-Central Montana
Geologic Province: Central Rocky Mountains Foreland Province

Heart Mountain Detachment Fault and Clastic Dikes of Fault Breccia, and Heart Mountain Break-Away Fault, Wyoming and Montana part of MT Field Guides
This field guide describes the geology of two sites near Silver Gate, MT (near Cooke City) where different features related to the Heart Mountain detachment are displayed. At the first site, several features pertaining to the origin of the Heart Mountain detachment fault can be examined, including: (1) severely deformed upper plate rocks in contact with undeformed lower plate rocks; (2) the character and composition of the fault breccia; (3) contacts of volcanic rocks with upper plate blocks and the Heart Mountain fault; and (4) dikes of carbonate fault-breccia injected into both upper plate blocks and overlying volcanic rocks. The second site is an exposure of the Heart Mountain break-away fault.

Topics: Fossils, Structures, Sedimentary rocks, Igneous rocks
Geographic Location: South-Central Montana
Geologic Province: Central Rocky Mountains Foreland Province

Crazy Mountains, Montana part of MT Field Guides
This trip examines a variety of mid-Eocene alkalic (feldspathoidal) stocks, laccoliths, sills, and dikes emplaced into Cretaceous and Paleozoic sedimentary strata. These rocks include mafic and felsic varieties, and are both texturally and compositionally variable. Most of the mafic alkalic rocks are unique in the Montana Alkalic Province in having Na2O > K2O. They are unusual even among feldspathoidal rocks because they are stongly enriched in incompatible elements, and have Sr, Nd, and Pb isotopic compositions which reflect an ancient source having low Rb/Sr, Sm/Nd, and U/Pb.

Topics: Structures, Metamorphic rocks, Igneous rocks, Sedimentary rocks
Geographic Location: South-Central Montana
Geologic Province: Central Rocky Mountains Foreland Province