The Top 10 Geological Field Trip Locations in Montana and Yellowstone
The MSU web development team
has put their heads together to name the top ten geology field trips in Montana and Yellowstone, based on superb geology, scenery, access, and educational value. For each location, we list our favorite road logs or field guides. They are listed below in no particular order.
1. Yellowstone National Park
The world's first national park highlights spectacular volcanic and hydrothermal features in one of the world's largest active volcanic areas.
2. Beartooth Highway
One of the country's most scenic drives features one of the continent's most complete records of early crustal evolution and growth, as well as classic examples of glacial landforms.
3. Stillwater Complex
One of the best-known, best-studied, and most-accessible layered mafic intrusions in the world.
4. Heart Mountain Detachment Fault
The largest known subaerial landslide on Earth and the focus of intense geologic research into one of the great, long-standing mysteries of geology.
5. Hebgen Lake Earthquake Area
The largest historic earthquake within the Intermountain Seismic Belt occurred in Montana in 1959 and produced spectacular fault scarps, a large landslide, a deformed lake basin, and a new lake.
6. Glacier National Park
The spectacular scenery of Glacier National Park features Proterozoic sedimentary rocks, basaltic sills, thrust faults, active glaciers, and glacial deposits.
7. Cretaceous-Tertiary Boundary at Bug Creek
One of the best-studied terrestrial sections across the K/T boundary in the world and a classic locality for the study of the paleoecology and stratigraphy of dinosaur extinction and early mammalian radiation.
8. Glacial Lake Missoula and the Spokane Floods
Glacial Lake Missoula was the largest of several lakes impounded by the Cordilleran Ice Sheet. Periodic melting of the ice dam resulted in at least 36 catastrophic floods, causing large-scale erosion of the Clark Fork River Valley and large areas of eastern Washington State and deposition of giant ripples 35 feet high in Camas Prairie.
Porphyry and vein-type Cu-Mo-Pb-Zn-Ag deposits associated with the Boulder batholith made the historic mining town of Butte the "richest hill on Earth".
10. Sun River Canyon
Sun River Canyon in the Sawtooth Range highlights one of the best exposed examples of imbricate thrust faulting in the foreland fold and thrust belt of the western United States.
Old Faithful Geyser - Michael Hoffmann, California Institute of Technology; Rock Creek Valley - Bob Bauer, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia, and used by permission; Heart Mountain fault - Kurt Hollocher, Union College Geology Department; Hebgen Lake Earthquake damage - J.B. Hadley, U.S. Geological Survey; Going-to-the-Sun Road - John Stumpf, [ USTravelPhotos.com]; Bug Creek - Jan Smit, Department of Sedimentology, Vrije Universiteit, The Netherlands