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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Geology of the Butte Mining District part of MT Field Guides
The Butte mining district is one of the major mining districts of the world with continuous production from both underground and open pit mines for 119 years, from 1864 to 1983. During this time, mining activites at Butte have introduced many firsts in mining methods, techniques of mine mapping, and the detailed recording of geologic data. This field guide describes the geology of the mineral deposits, provides a geologic map of the district, and concludes with a tour of eight locations of interest, including Alice pit, Syndicate pit, Berkeley pit, the Emma and Orphan Boy veins of the Anaconda system, the World Museum of Mining, and the Montana Tech Mineral Museum.

Topics: Resources, Igneous rocks
Geographic Location: Southwest Montana
Geologic Province: Rocky Mountain Fold-Thrust Belt

Upper Cretaceous-Paleocene Sequence, Bug Creek Area, Northeastern Montana part of MT Field Guides
Study of the Late Cretaceous-Paleocene sequence in the Bug Creek Area and the rest of the Fort Peck Fossil Field has contributed greatly to our understanding of the paleoecology and stratigraphy of dinosaur extinction and the primary radiation of Tertiary placental mammals. The area features at least 133 species of spores and pollen, 93 species of Cretaceous vertebrates (including 30 species of mammals and 19 species of dinosaurs), 24 species of Paleocene mammals, as well as the oldest ungulate and primate specimens ever found. Fossil leaves and wood have also been described. The area also includes well-studied localities of the K/T boundary containing Ir-rich clay and shocked quartz. No section of terrestrial sediments across the K/T boundary has been studied in as many ways as this one. This has been and will continue to be a major locality at which to study evidence for various hypotheses about the events at the K/T boundary.

Topics: Sedimentary rocks, Fossils
Geographic Location: Northeast Montana
Geologic Province: Montana Plains

Structural Geology of the Sawtooth Range at Sun River Canyon, Montana Disturbed Belt, Montana part of MT Field Guides
The Sawtooth Range is one of the best exposed examples of imbricate thrust faulting in the foreland fold and thrust belt of the western United States. It is an outstanding field classroom for the demonstration of stratal shortening and the various structural features associated with thrust belt terranes. This 7-stop traverse through Sun River Canyon offers excellent exposures of thrust contacts along the road and panoramic views of stacked thrust sheets and demonstrates the dependence of structural style on relative competence of units in the stratigraphic section.

Topics: Structures, Sedimentary rocks
Geographic Location: Northwest Montana
Geologic Province: Rocky Mountain Fold-Thrust Belt

Hydrologic Aspects of Metal Mine Impacts on Upper Clark Fork Superfund Sites, Butte - Warm Springs, MT part of MT Field Guides
This road log concentrates on environmental impacts of historic mining activities in the Butte Mining District, particularly with regard to water quality. The trip decribes the general geology between Bozeman and Butte and provides a detailed overview of the geology, hydrogeology, mineralization, and mining history in the Butte district. Specific topics included in this field guide are: water quality changes in underground mines and the Berkeley Pit, impacts and remediation of mine tailings and processing plants (mills, smelters, and reduction plants), and groundwater contamination and remediation. Detailed information from geotechnical and hydrogeological studies related to these topics is included.

Topics: Hydrology, Environmental Geology
Geographic Location: Southwest Montana
Geologic Province: Rocky Mountain Fold-Thrust Belt

Multiple Catastrophic Drainage of Glacial Lake Missoula, Montana part of MT Field Guides
This field guide describes two localities related to the history and drainage of Glacial Lake Missoula northwest of Missoula, Montana. The first site highlights spectacular erosional and depositional features that illustrate the effects of extremely large discharge related to the drainage of the lake. In a sense, the area is the world's most extravagant natural flume experiment. Features include bedrock basins (scoured by flood waters), large deltaic bars, and megaripples as large as 35 feet from crest to trough. The second site, a large roadcut along I-90, contains a record of at least 36 fillings of the lake, presumably during Pinedale(?) time, suggesting that drainage occurred many times. Another roadcut exposes a similar, but unstudied record of deposition in a higher terrace that probably formed during Bull Lake(?) time and may indicate an older history of lake formation and drainage.

Topics: Surficial geology, Hydrology, Sedimentary rocks
Geographic Location: Northwest Montana
Geologic Province: Rocky Mountain Fold-Thrust Belt

Geology Along Going-To-The-Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana part of MT Field Guides
This guide to the geology along Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park describes many of the major geologic features of the Park. It is directed toward the Park visitor with little no no background in geology. The guide begins with a short introduction to the science of geology and the geologic time scale, followed by a simplified geologic cross section through the Park from SW to NE. The bulk of the field guide is a 21-stop road log, keyed to numered octagonal signs along the road, which describes the geology along the road. A glossary of geologic terms and an appendix is included which contains a brief geologic history of Glacier National Park, explanations of rock colors and fossil algae (stromatolites), and descriptions of the Proterozoic rock formations that can be seen along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. An extremely useful resource included at the back of the book is a fold-out geologic map, plotted on an oblique shaded-relief diagram, that depicts the landscape and the distribution of rock formations and faults in the vicinity of Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Topics: Metamorphic rocks, Sedimentary rocks, Igneous rocks, Structures, Surficial geology, Fossils
Geographic Location: Northwest Montana
Geologic Province: Rocky Mountain Fold-Thrust Belt

Great Falls to Wolf Creek (Via I-15) part of MT Field Guides
Great Falls is underlain by the Lower Cretaceous Kootenai Formation (Aptian), a series of red sandstones and shales which is considered to have been deposited in a "mostly" nonmarine environment. The city is on a crest of a broad northwest-plunging anticline called the South Arch, which lies just east of the Montana Thrust Belt. As we drive southwestward towards the Montanta Thrust Belt today, we will travel off the northwest flank of the South Arch. This will take us gradually from Lower Cretaceous to Upper Cretaceous outcrops until we reach the edge of the mountain front.

Topics: Structures, Igneous rocks, Sedimentary rocks
Geographic Location: North-Central Montana
Geologic Province: Montana Plains, Central Rocky Mountains Foreland Province, Rocky Mountain Fold-Thrust Belt

Rhyolite-Basalt Volcanism of the Yellowstone Plateau and Hydrothermal Activity of Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming part of MT Field Guides
This field guide provides an overview of the major geologic and hydrothermal features along the park roads through the western and northern parts of Yellowstone National Park. A number of sites from Old Faithful to Mammoth Hot Springs are described in the context of the geologic history of the Yellowstone region. Areas receiving special emphasis are the Firehole River and Upper Geyser Basin (including the Old Faithful area), Midway and Lower Geyser Basins, Firehole Canyon, Madison Junction, Norris Geyser Basin, the Norris-Mammoth Corridor, and Mammoth Hot Springs.

Topics: Surficial geology, Structures, Hydrology, Igneous rocks, Sedimentary rocks
Geographic Location: Yellowstone National Park
Geologic Province: Yellowstone Plateau

Geology and Evolution of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming part of MT Field Guides
This field guide concerns that part of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone seen by most visitors between Chittenden Bridge and Sevenmile Hole. The focus of the field guide is the stratigraphy and erosional history of the volcanic and sedimentary rocks (all younger than 610 Ka) that are observed in the canyon walls at 11 locations within or adjacent to the canyon: Inspiration Point, Red Rock, Lower and Upper Falls, Cascade Creek, Uncle Toms Trail, Uncle Toms Rest Area, Artist Point, and a location near Chittenden Bridge. The volcanic and sedimentary features observed at the various stops are discussed in terms of a sequential geologic framework.

Topics: Surficial geology, Igneous rocks, Sedimentary rocks
Geographic Location: Yellowstone National Park
Geologic Province: Yellowstone Plateau

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