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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Field Guide to the Mountain View and West Fork Areas, Stillwater Complex, Montana part of MT Field Guides
The Mountain View area of the Stillwater Complex, which is exposed on the west side of the Stillwater River valley, contains a well exposed, easily accessible section through the Ultramafic series. In this area the ultramafic cumulates have, for the most part, escaped the serpentinization common in other parts of the complex. The Basal series rocks and the lowermost ultramafic cumulates, however, have suffereed extensive alteration. The hornfels and the sill/dike complex are reasonably fresh and well exposed in the Verdigris Creek area, the site of intensive exploration for Cu/Ni sulfides. The Banded series rocks are well exposed along the mine road leading to the abandoned Mouat chromite mine, although only Lower Banded series cumulates are present in this area.

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

Field Guide to an Archean Transect, Eastern Beartooth Mountains, Montana-Wyoming part of MT Field Guides
The eastern Beartooth Mountains of Montana and Wyoming contain a record of crustal evolution that spans almost 1000 Ma and culminates in a major episode of crustal growth 2700-2800 Ma. The earlier record is sparse and complex as a result of extensive magmatism and intense metamorphism associated with Late Archean activity. In general, however, it appears that continental material was present in this area by roughly 3600 Ma, and that a stable continental shelf accumulated quartzites, iron-formation, and lesser amounts of pelitic to psammitic units interspersed with small volumes of mafic to silicic volcanic rocks. This cycle of accumulation was apparently terminated by an episode of granulite facies metamorphism 3300-3400 Ma, perhaps as a result of continent-continent collision....About 2800-2900 Ma, a second major cycle of crustal growth began that bears some resemblance to those associated with modern continent-ocean subduction zones....The first igneous rocks produced during this cycle were andesitic or dioritic rocks, both coarse and fine grained, that were subsequently metamorphosed to amphibolite facies....This interval is restricted by the presence of a granodioritic series (Long Lake granodiorite) that was intruded late in the kinematic cycle... (2779 Ma)...and marks the lower limit for the last major episode of regional metamorphism. The last and most volumetrically important rock produced during the cycle was the Long Lake granite. This unit composes approximately 80-90% of the eastern portion of the range and engulfs all older rock types. It appears to have been intruded about 2740 Ma....This excursion will attempt to view the evidence of these two major cycles in four main stops: (1) Hellroaring Plateau, (2) Lower Quad Creek, (3) Upper Quad Creek, and (4) Long Lake. Late Archean mafic dikes (at Beartooth Lake) will also be examined.

Topics: Metamorphic rocks, Igneous rocks
Geographic Location: Southwest Montana
Geologic Province: Central Rocky Mountains Foreland Province

Middle Proterozoic Belt Supergroup, Western Montana part of MT Field Guides
From Great Falls, to Butte, Helena Glacier National Park and Spokane, this field trip crosses onto the leading edge of the Rocky Mountain thrust belt and proceeds to the stratiform copper-silver deposits in the Revett Formation of the Troy Mine in the main part of the Belt basin. The road log includes sections on the paleontology of the Middle Proterozoic Belt Supergroup, stromatolites of the Belt Supergroup (specific to Glacier National Park), Middle Proterozoic Tectonics of the Belt basin, and a sedimentologic and tectonic interpretation of the Belt Supergroup.

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

Volcanism and Plutonism at Shallow Crustal Levels: The Elkhorn Mountains Volcanics and the Boulder Batholith, Southwestern Montana part of MT Field Guides
The Upper Cretaceous Elkhorn Mountains Volcanics (EMV) and Boulder batholith of southwestern Montana provide an example of a large-volume, epizonal, volcanic-plutonic complex whose deep level of erosion has exposed the cogenetic intrusive rocks while preserving sizeable portions of the volcanic field. Such a volcanic-plutonic association provides a unique opportunity for evaluation of many aspects of the evolution of a shallow-crustal magmatic system, such as geochemical relations of both the volcanic and plutonic rocks and the nature of intrusive-extrusive relationships at the present level of exposure.

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

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and the Middle Rocky Mountains part of MT Field Guides
This trip is designed to show participants the granite-cored Laramide (Late Cretaceous-earliest Eocene) mountain ranges in the middle Rocky Mountains, and their various stages of burial by Cenozoic deposits and subsequent Quaternary exhumation. Mountain-flank structures involving Precambrian, Paleozoic, and Mesozoic rocks, the classic Heart Mountain detachment fault complex, and the rootless overthrust mountain ranges of the Wyoming-Utah-Idaho thrust belt are traversed.

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

The Yellowstone Plateau-Island Park Region part of MT Field Guides
The Yellowstone Plateau, at the center of one of the Earth's largest volcanic fields, spans the continental divide between the Northern and Middle Rocky Mountains at an average elevation of about 2.400 m. The eruptions of the Yellowstone Plateau volcanic field, entirely postdating 2.5 Ma, were exceedingly voluminous but are only the surficial expression of the emplacement of a batholithic volume of rhyolitic magma to high crustal levels. Although the latest eruptions were about 70,000 years ago, an immense hydrothermal system and a variety of geophysical characteristics indicate the continued presence of an active shallow magma chamber.

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

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

Plutonism at Deep Crustal Levels: The Idaho Batholith, Montana and Idaho part of MT Field Guides
The Idaho batholith field trip traverses a well exposed cross-section of the northern Idaho batholith, briefly examines the broad aspects of this deep-seated granitoid batholith and its regionally metamorphosed country rocks, and considers the role of the synplutonic mafic magmas from the mantle in providing heat for melting of continental crustal rocks to form the more felsic main-phase units of the batholith.

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

Geology of the Highwood Mountains, Montana: A Survey of Magma Types and Sources part of MT Field Guides
The Highwood Mountains represent a dissected Eocene volcanic and intrusive complex composed of latites and highly potassic, mafic to felsic igneous rocks. Along with the Bearpaw Mountains and Eagle Buttes, they form a northeast-trending belt within the Montana Alkalic Province, and were all emplaced between 54 and 50 Ma. In the Highwoods an older suite of quartz-normative latites is overlain and intruded by a younger suite composed mostly of mafic phonolite flows and dikes, minette and trachyte dikes, and shonkinite-mafic syenite stocks. This trip examines a variety of dikes, sills, and stocks composed of these unusual rock types.

Topics: Metamorphic rocks, Igneous rocks, Sedimentary rocks
Geographic Location: North-Central Montana
Geologic Province: Montana Plains

Shonkin Sag and Square Butte Laccoliths, Montana part of MT Field Guides
Shonkin Sag and Square Butte laccoliths are at the eastern edge of the Highwood Mountains as part of the Central Montana Alkalic Province. Rocks in the Highwood Mountains date to 50-53 Ma. Both laccoliths are internally differentiated and contain a variety of rock types, including shonkinite, syenite, and pegmatite.

Topics: Sedimentary rocks, Igneous rocks
Geographic Location: North-Central Montana
Geologic Province: Montana Plains