Geologic units in Blaine county, Montana

Additional scientific data in this geographic area

Bearpaw Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 42 % of this area

Dark gray shale with several zones of calcareous concretions, a basal zone of ferruginous concretions, and numerous thin bentonite beds. Marine. Thickness as much as 300 m (984 ft).

Judith River Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 23 % of this area

Light brown to light gray, fine- to coarse-grained sandstone with interbeds of gray to black carbonaceous shale, silty shale, and thin coal. Local Parkman Sandstone Member (lower part of formation):yellowish gray to brownish gray and olive green, fine- to medium-grained, cross-bedded sandstone interbedded with yellowish gray, silty shale. Estuarine, brackish, and nearshore marine. Thickness as much as 305 m (1000 ft).

Alluvium (Quaternary) at surface, covers 6 % of this area

Gravel, sand, silt, and clay deposits of stream and river channels, and floodplains.

Gravel (Tertiary) at surface, covers 6 % of this area

Variable deposits that range from pebble to boulder size and include sand, silt, and clay. Dominantly alluvial terrace, abandoned channel and floodplain, remnant alluvial fan, and local glacial outwash.

Hell Creek and Fox Hills Formations (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 4 % of this area

Hell Creek Formation (Khc): Light gray, bentonitic claystone that alternates with gray to brown sandstone interbedded with carbonaceous shale. Laterally equivalent to Lance Formation. Fluvial and flood plain. Thickness as much as 335 m (1,100 ft). Fox Hills Formation (Kfh): Yellowish orange to gray, fine- to medium-grained, non-calcareous sandstone in upper part, and interbedded sandstone, siltstone, and black shale with calcareous concretion zone in lower part. Marginal marine. Thickness 30–45 m (98–148 ft).

Mafic volcanic rock (Tertiary) at surface, covers 4 % of this area

Mafic volcanic rock

Gravel (Quaternary and Tertiary) at surface, covers 3 % of this area

Variable deposits that range from pebble to boulder size and include sand, silt, and clay. Dominantly alluvial terrace, abandoned channel and floodplain, remnant alluvial fan, and local glacial outwash.

Claggett Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 2 % of this area

Dark gray to gray shale that weathers brown, with thin, gray sandstone laminae and beds in upper or middle part and calcareous concretions in lower part. Marine. Thickness as much as 170 m (558 ft).

Telegraph Creek through Carlile Formation: Telegraph Creek, Niobrara, Carlile Formations (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 2 % of this area

Telegraph Creek (Ktc): Thin interbeds of yellowish brown sandstone or siltstone and gray shale. Marine shoreface and offshore. Thickness as much as 200 m (656 ft). Niobrara Formation (Kn): Gray to dark gray shale with numerous thin bentonite beds. Chalky aggregates of coccoliths and rhabdoliths in upper part. MacGowan Concretionary Bed (middle part of formation): grayish brown concretionary dolostone and limestone with phosphatic pellets and gray to black chert pebbles. Marine. Lower part noncalcareous. Thickness as much as 9–23 m (30–75 ft). Carlile Formation(Kca): Dark to light gray, noncalcareous, partly silty or sandy shale with upper zone of white-weathering, calcareous concretions, middle zone of sandy, orange-weathering, calcareous concretions, and basal zone of ferruginous concretions. Marine. Thickness as much as 195 m (640 ft).

Mowry through Fall River Formation: Mowry, Thermopolis, and Fall River Formations (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 1 % of this area

Mowry Formation (Km): Light gray to silvery gray, platy to blocky, siliceous shale and subordinate thin-bedded, gray siltstone or very fine-grained sandstone laminae or beds. Fish scales common in central Montana. Ledge-forming, chert-bearing, fine- to medium-grained sandstone at top. throughout west-central Montana. Marine. Thickness 240 m (787 ft). Thermopolis Formation (Kt): Dark gray to black shale with subordinate siltstone beds. Middle part of formation contains one or more thin sandstone beds with chert pebble horizons where Muddy Sandstone is not present. Offshore marine. Thickness as much as 305 m (1,000 ft). Fall River Formation (Kfr): Gray and brown, fine- to medium-grained, quartzose sandstone with thin interbeds of dark gray shale. Nearshore marine. Thickness as much as 70 m (1,214 ft).

Felsic volcanic rock (Tertiary) at surface, covers 1 % of this area

Felsic volcanic rock

Eagle Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 0.9 % of this area

Gray or grayish brown, thick-bedded sandstone, sandy shale, and thin interbedded coal. Chert-pebble lag deposit common at top of formation. Virgelle Member (lower part of formation in parts of central Montana): very light gray, gray, or brown sandstone that coarsens upward. Root zone and thin carbonaceous beds at top of member. Delta, coastal plain, tidal flat, and marine shoreface and foreshore. Thickness as much as 150 m (492 ft).

Greenhorn and Belle Fourche Formations (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 0.8 % of this area

Greenhorn Formation (Kgr): Gray to light gray calcareous shale and shaly marl with thin beds of limestone. Shale contains white to pink calcareous specks. Marine. Thickness as much as 100 m (30–75 ft). Belle Fourche Formation (Kbf): Gray to black shale with ironstone concretions and numerous bentonite beds. Mosby Sandstone Member (upper part of formation in north- and east-central Montana): brown sandstone locally with chert pebbles, interbedded with gray shale. Big Elk Sandstone Member (lower part of formation in southwest-central Montana): light gray, chert-rich sandstone commonly stained dark red, interbedded with thin, dark gray to black clayey shale. Marine shelf. Thickness as much as 260 m (853 ft).

Latite (Tertiary) at surface, covers 0.8 % of this area

Latite

Shonkinite and syenite (Tertiary) at surface, covers 0.5 % of this area

Shonkinite and syenite

Syenite (Tertiary) at surface, covers 0.2 % of this area

Syenite

Fort Union Formation (Tertiary) at surface, covers 0.2 % of this area

No unique unit description on map. Assumed to include undivided Tertiary age members of the Fort Union Formation: Sentinel Butte (Tfsb), Tongue River (Tftr), Linley (Tflc), Ludlow (Tfld), Lebo (Tfle), Ekalaka (Tfe), and Tullock (Tft) members.

Lodgepole Formation (Mississippian) at surface, covers 0.2 % of this area

Woodhurst Member (upper part of formation): light gray, well-bedded limestone, typically with much dark chert, interbedded with thinner calcareous mudstone beds. Paine Member (middle part of formation):dark gray, thin-bedded, silty or fossiliferous limestone. Cottonwood Canyon Member (lower part of formation): black shale with basal conglomeratic lag deposit. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 305 m (1000 ft).

Kootenai Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 0.2 % of this area

Kootenai Formation (Kk, Kku, Kkm, Kkl): Red, maroon, and olive gray mudstone, tan or gray siltstone, calcareous concretions, limestone beds, and several prominent sandstone beds that include the Greybull Member (top of the formation in south-central Montana) and the Sunburst Member (middle to lower part of the formation in northwest-central Montana), both dominantly quartzose sandstone. Basal Cutbank or Pryor Conglomerate. Alluvial plain with local marine influence in the north. Thickness as much as 335 m (1,099 ft).

Eagle and Telegraph Creek Formations (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 0.2 % of this area

Eagle Formation (Ke): Gray or grayish brown, thick-bedded sandstone, sandy shale, and thin interbedded coal. Chert-pebble lag deposit common at top of formation. Virgelle Member (lower part of formation in parts of central Montana): very light gray, gray, or brown sandstone that coarsens upward. Root zone and thin carbonaceous beds at top of member. Delta, coastal plain, tidal flat, and marine shoreface and foreshore. Thickness as much as 150 m (492 ft). Telegraph Creek Formation (Ktc): Thin interbeds of yellowish brown sandstone or siltstone and gray shale. Marine shoreface and offshore. Thickness as much as 200 m (656 ft).

Mission Canyon Formation: locally includes Big Snowy Formation in south-central Montana (Mississippian) at surface, covers 0.2 % of this area

Gray, massive limestone with chert beds and nodules, and solution breccia zones. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 520 m (1,706 ft). In south-central Montana - Big Snowy Formation: Olive gray, thick-bedded limestone, yellowish gray siltstone, dark gray shale, and yellowish brown, thin bedded siltstone and mudstone. Nearshore marine. Thickness 120 m (394 ft).

Bighorn through Flathead Formation: Bighorn, Pilgrim, Park, Meagher, Wolsey, and Flathead Formations (Ordovician and Cambrian) at surface, covers 0.1 % of this area

Bighorn Formation (Ob): Yellowish gray to very pale orange crystalline dolomite with local basal sandstone. Marine shelf. Thickness as much as 120 m (394 ft). Pilgrim Formation: Gray, commonly mottled limestone that may contain intraformational limestone conglomerate. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 180 m (590 ft). Park Formation: Grayish green, fissile, micaceous shale with a few thin beds of calcareous sandstone and thin, gray limestone. Local arkose beds. Offshore marine. Thickness as much as 310 m (1,017 ft). Meagher Formation: Gray to bluish gray limestone and dolomitic limestone, locally mottled and with intraformational conglomerate beds. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 300 m (984 ft). Wolsey Formation (CAw): Dark green and purplish gray fissile, micaceous shale, thin glauconitic limestone beds and thin, fine-grained sandstone beds. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 145 m (476 ft). Flathead Formation (CAf): Pinkish gray to light gray sandstone or quartzite. Locally very glauconitic, pebbly, arkosic, or iron-stained. Marine shoreface. Thickness as much as 100 m (328 ft).

Three Forks through Maywood Formation: Three Forks, Jefferson, and Maywood Formations or Palliser and Alexo Formations, and Fairholme Group in northwestern Montana near Canadian border (Mississippian and Devonian) at surface, covers 0.1 % of this area

Three Forks Formation (MDt): Sappington Member (upper part of formation):yellowish orange and yellowish gray siltstone. Trident Member (middle part of formation): greenish gray and light olive gray, fossiliferous, calcareous shale that contains interbeds and nodules of fossiliferous, argillaceous limestone. Logan Gulch Member (lower part of formation): yellowish gray and grayish red, argillaceous limestone breccia and shale breccia that may include dolomitic siltstone. Marine to restricted marine with evaporite basins. Thickness as much as 185 m (607 ft). Jefferson Formation (Dj): Birdbear Member (upper part of formation): light to medium gray, sucrosic dolomite. Lower part of formation: grayish black, commonly petroliferous dolomite or limestone that may be interbedded with light gray quartzite. Marine. Thickness as much as 520 m (1,706 ft). Maywood Formation: Thin-bedded dolomitic limestone and dolomite interbedded with calcareous shale. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 120 m (394 ft). In northwestern Montana near Canadian border - Palliser Formation: Gray and greenish gray limestone and dolomitic limestone with locally abundant black chert. Pinkish gray, very thinly laminated, calcareous mudstone at base. Marine. Thickness as much as 300 m (984 ft). Alexo Formation: Pale yellowish orange, medium grained, calcareous siltstone with calcareous mudstone at the base. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 595 m (1,952 ft). Fairholme Group: Brownish black, bioturbated, calcareous mudstone, gray algal limestone and dolomite, and pale yellowish orange, medium-grained, calcareous sandstone at the base. Thickness as much as 550 m(1,805 ft).

Wasatch Formation (Tertiary) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Southeastern Montana: orangish brown, arkosic sandstone, lenticular conglomerate and siltstone, dark gray carbonaceous shale, coal, and varicolored claystone. Bears Paw Mountains: variegated red, pink, lavender, light green, yellow, gray, and very light gray shale, bentonitic claystone, and siltstone; light gray, brown, and green cross-bedded sandstone; and lenses of boulder conglomerate. Syntectonic alluvial fan and alluvial plain. Thickness as much as 120 m (394 ft) in Montana; upper part removed by erosion.

Swift Formation (Jurassic) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Orangish brown, glauconitic, flaggy-bedded, commonly fossiliferous, fine-grained sandstone or sandy coquina with subordinate dark gray shale interbeds; chert pebbles common. In west-central and northwestern Montana, a dark gray, noncalcareous, micaceous shale forms the lower part of the formation, commonly with a basal chert-pebble conglomerate or conglomeratic sandstone as much as 3 m (10 ft) thick. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 70 m (230 ft).

Kootenai Formation through Ellis Group: Kootenai, Morrison, and Ellis Group (Cretaceous and Jurassic) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Kootenai Formation (Kk, Kku, Kkm, Kkl): Red, maroon, and olive gray mudstone, tan or gray siltstone, calcareous concretions, limestone beds, and several prominent sandstone beds that include the Greybull Member (top of the formation in south-central Montana) and the Sunburst Member (middle to lower part of the formation in northwest-central Montana), both dominantly quartzose sandstone. Basal Cutbank or Pryor Conglomerate. Alluvial plain with local marine influence in the north. Thickness as much as 335 m (1,099 ft). Morrison Formation (Jm): Green, gray, or red mudstone and marlstone with subordinate limestone and sandstone beds. Upper part Neocomian age in central Montana and contains carbonaceous black shale and coal. Fluvial, paludal, and lacustrine. Thickness as much as 180 m (590 ft). Ellis Group (Je) - Swift Formation (Jsw): Orangish brown, glauconitic, flaggy-bedded, commonly fossiliferous, fine-grained sandstone or sandy coquina with subordinate dark gray shale interbeds; chert pebbles common. In west-central and northwestern Montana, a dark gray, noncalcareous, micaceous shale forms the lower part of the formation, commonly with a basal chert-pebble conglomerate or conglomeratic sandstone as much as 3 m (10 ft) thick. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 70 m (230 ft). Rierdon Formation (Jr): Gray, locally fossiliferous limestone that may contain floating grains of quartz sand, interbedded with greenish gray limy shale. Lagoonal and marine shelf. Thickness as much as 105 m (344 ft). Sawtooth Formation: Western Montana: dark gray, platy to shaly, dense limestone with local basal conglomerate. Central Montana: upper calcareous siltstone, middle dark gray shale with thin limestone interbeds, and lower fine-grained sandstone. Three local members Bowes, Firemoon, and Tampico, in descending order. Bowes Member: dark gray to medium gray, calcareous mudstone, limestone, and quartzose sandstone. Firemoon Member: dark to medium gray, limestone and calcareous mudstone. Tampico Member: very light gray, well-sorted quartz sandstone and siltstone, and chert-pebble conglomerate. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 205 m (673 ft). Piper Formation (Jp): Upper part: red mudstone and gypsum; middle part: gray shale, limestone, and dolomite; lower part: red mudstone and gypsum. Marine and restricted coastal evaporite basins. Thickness as much as 75 m (246 ft).

Ellis Group: Swift, Rierdon, and Piper or Sawtooth Formations; not all formations present at all locations (Jurassic) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Swift Formation (Jsw): Orangish brown, glauconitic, flaggy-bedded, commonly fossiliferous, fine-grained sandstone or sandy coquina with subordinate dark gray shale interbeds; chert pebbles common. In west-central and northwestern Montana, a dark gray, noncalcareous, micaceous shale forms the lower part of the formation, commonly with a basal chert-pebble conglomerate or conglomeratic sandstone as much as 3 m (10 ft) thick. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 70 m (230 ft). Rierdon Formation (Jr): Gray, locally fossiliferous limestone that may contain floating grains of quartz sand, interbedded with greenish gray limy shale. Lagoonal and marine shelf. Thickness as much as 105 m (344 ft). Sawtooth Formation: Western Montana: dark gray, platy to shaly, dense limestone with local basal conglomerate. Central Montana: upper calcareous siltstone, middle dark gray shale with thin limestone interbeds, and lower fine-grained sandstone. Three local members Bowes, Firemoon, and Tampico, in descending order. Bowes Member: dark gray to medium gray, calcareous mudstone, limestone, and quartzose sandstone. Firemoon Member: dark to medium gray, limestone and calcareous mudstone. Tampico Member: very light gray, well-sorted quartz sandstone and siltstone, and chert-pebble conglomerate. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 205 m (673 ft). Piper Formation (Jp): Upper part: red mudstone and gypsum; middle part: gray shale, limestone, and dolomite; lower part: red mudstone and gypsum. Marine and restricted coastal evaporite basins. Thickness as much as 75 m (246 ft).

Fox Hills Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Yellowish orange to gray, fine- to medium-grained, non-calcareous sandstone in upper part, and interbedded sandstone, siltstone, and black shale with calcareous concretion zone in lower part. Marginal marine. Thickness 30–45 m (98–148 ft).

Trachyte (Tertiary) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Trachyte

Hell Creek Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Light gray, bentonitic claystone that alternates with gray to brown sandstone interbedded with carbonaceous shale. Laterally equivalent to Lance Formation. Fluvial and flood plain. Thickness as much as 335 m (1,100 ft).

Monzonite (Tertiary) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Monzonite

Metamorphic rock (Archean) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Metamorphic rock

Madison Group: Mission Canyon and Lodgepole Formations; or Castle Reef and Allan Mountain Formations (Mississippian) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Mission Canyon Formation (Mmc): Gray, massive limestone with chert beds and nodules, and solution breccia zones. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 520 m (1,706 ft). Lodgepole Formation (Ml): Woodhurst Member (upper part of formation): light gray, well-bedded limestone, typically with much dark chert, interbedded with thinner calcareous mudstone beds. Paine Member (middle part of formation):dark gray, thin-bedded, silty or fossiliferous limestone. Cottonwood Canyon Member (lower part of formation): black shale with basal conglomeratic lag deposit. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 305 m (1000 ft). In Northwest Montana - Castle Reef Formation: Medium to light gray, thick-bedded limestone or dolomite. Sun River Member (upper part of formation): light gray dolomite with thick fossiliferous lenses. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 300 m (984 ft). Allan Mountain Formation: Dark gray, thinly bedded limestone with thin mudstone and shale partings, and nodular chert. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 200 m (656 ft).

Telegraph Creek through Belle Fourche Formation: Telegraph Creek, Niobrara, Carlile, Greenhorn, and Belle Fourche Formations (Cretaceous) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Telegraph Creek (Ktc): Thin interbeds of yellowish brown sandstone or siltstone and gray shale. Marine shoreface and offshore. Thickness as much as 200 m (656 ft). Niobrara Formation (Kn): Gray to dark gray shale with numerous thin bentonite beds. Chalky aggregates of coccoliths and rhabdoliths in upper part. MacGowan Concretionary Bed (middle part of formation): grayish brown concretionary dolostone and limestone with phosphatic pellets and gray to black chert pebbles. Marine. Lower part noncalcareous. Thickness as much as 9–23 m (30–75 ft). Carlile Formation (Kca): Dark to light gray, noncalcareous, partly silty or sandy shale with upper zone of white-weathering, calcareous concretions, middle zone of sandy, orange-weathering, calcareous concretions, and basal zone of ferruginous concretions. Marine. Thickness as much as 195 m (640 ft). Greenhorn Formation (Kgr): Gray to light gray calcareous shale and shaly marl with thin beds of limestone. Shale contains white to pink calcareous specks. Marine. Thickness as much as 100 m (30–75 ft). Belle Fourche Formation (Kbf): Gray to black shale with ironstone concretions and numerous bentonite beds. Mosby Sandstone Member (upper part of formation in north- and east-central Montana): brown sandstone locally with chert pebbles, interbedded with gray shale. Big Elk Sandstone Member (lower part of formation in southwest-central Montana): light gray, chert-rich sandstone commonly stained dark red, interbedded with thin, dark gray to black clayey shale. Marine shelf. Thickness as much as 260 m (853 ft).

Marias River Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Marias River Formation (Kmr) - Kevin Member (Kmk): Dark gray shale with calcareous concretions and numerous bentonite beds. Upper part calcareous. MacGowan Concretionary Bed (middle part of member): grayish brown concretionary dolostone and limestone with phosphatic pellets, and gray to black chert pebbles. Marine. Thickness as much as 350 m (1,148 ft). Ferdig Member (Kmf): Gray and dark gray shale with thin siltstone or sandstone beds at the top. Marine. Thickness as much as 125m (410 ft). Cone Member (Kmc): Calcareous, dark gray shale and thin limestone beds and lenses. Widespread bentonite bed and septarian concretions near base. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 20 m (66 ft). Floweree Member (Kmfl): Dark gray, noncalcareous shale with interbeds of siltstone. Calcareous concretions and scattered granules of dark gray chert. Shallow marine. Thickness as much as 30 m (98 ft).