Geologic units in Musselshell county, Montana

Additional scientific data in this geographic area

Tongue River Member of Fort Union Formation (Tertiary) at surface, covers 39 % of this area

Yellowish orange sandstone, sandy and silty carbonaceous shale, and coal. Alluvial plain. Thickness as much as 300 m (984 ft).

Bearpaw Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 9 % 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).

Lebo Member of Fort Union Formation (Tertiary) at surface, covers 8 % of this area

Dark gray carbonaceous shale, bentonitic claystone, sandstone, and coal. Alluvial plain. Thickness as much as 185 m (607 ft).

Tullock Member of Fort Union Formation (Tertiary) at surface, covers 7 % of this area

Yellow sandstone interbedded with subordinate grayish brown and black shale and thin beds of coal. Alluvial plain. Thickness as much as 180 m (590 ft).

Gravel (Quaternary and 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.

Lance Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 6 % of this area

Orangish brown, coarse- to fine-grained sandstone with subordinate interbeds of shale and mudstone. Laterally equivalent to Hell Creek Formation. Fluvial. Thickness as much as 150 m (492 ft).

Claggett Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 6 % 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).

Judith River Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 6 % 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 3 % of this area

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

Eagle Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 3 % 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).

Telegraph Creek through Belle Fourche Formation: Telegraph Creek, Niobrara, Carlile, Greenhorn, and Belle Fourche 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). 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).

Kootenai Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 0.9 % 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).

Mowry through Fall River Formation: Mowry, Thermopolis, and Fall River Formations (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 0.8 % 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).

Niobrara Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 0.7 % of this area

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).

Telegraph Creek Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 0.6 % of this area

Thin interbeds of yellowish brown sandstone or siltstone and gray shale. Marine shoreface and offshore. Thickness as much as 200 m (656 ft).

Thermopolis Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 0.5 % of this area

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).

Belle Fourche Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 0.4 % of this area

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).

Carlile Formation (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 0.4 % of this area

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).

Gravel (Quaternary) at surface, covers 0.2 % 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.

Morrison Formation (Jurassic) at surface, covers 0.2 % of this area

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).

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

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).

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

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).

Judith River and Claggett Formations (Cretaceous) at surface, covers 0.1 % of this area

Judith River Formation (Kjr): 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). Claggett Formation (Kcl): 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).

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).

Alaska Bench Formation: locally includes Devils Pocket Formation in central Montana (Pennsylvanian) at surface, covers < 0.1 % of this area

Gray and bluish gray, hard, fossiliferous limestone with subordinate interbeds of red mudstone. Marine. Thickness as much as 105 m (345 ft). In central Montana: Devils Pocket Formation: Red to gray siliceous dolomite, gray, finely crystalline, thin-bedded limestone, and red, gray, or pink, fine- to medium-grained quartz sandstone. May include massive breccia of coarse, cherty dolomite, limestone, red sandstone, shale, and chert. Intertidal to open marine. Thickness 43 m (140ft) at type section.

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

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).

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).

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

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).

Eagle and Telegraph Creek Formations (Cretaceous) at surface, covers < 0.1 % 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).

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

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).