18 July, 2015 Great Falls Montana United States

Fractures, Folds, and Faults in Thrusted Terrains: Sawtooth Range, Montana

13-18 July 2015
Great Falls, Montana, United States


Who Should Attend
Exploration and development geologists, geophysicists, log analysts, engineers, and managers working in structural geology and/or fractures who want a thorough understanding of the geology and geophysics utilized in E&P in thrust belts.

Upon completion of this field seminar, participants will be able to:

  • Identify natural fractures and discuss analogs.
  • Differentiate natural vs. induced fractures.
  • Make connections between structure & fractures & prolific oil fields in the region and new discovery potential.
  • Have a greater understanding source rock petroleum systems of a thrust belt, and its influence on adjacent forebulge resource oil plays.
  • Develop completion programs where fractures and structure play a major role in the reservoir.
Course Content

During this seminar, leaders and attendees together will:

  • Examine the mechanics of fracturing, folding, and faulting in thrust belt terrains.
  • Identify and discuss new ideas regarding the geometry and kinematics of the development of thrust belts with examples from the spectacular Sawtooth Range of northwest Montana.
  • Compare seismic interpretation with outcrop examples and review drilling practices in a “frontier” (Montana) exploration thrust belt province.
  • Analyze stratigraphic concepts which are essential in the exploration of thrust belt targets.

This field seminar is unique in that it offers the participant the opportunity to interact with a number of instructors who have several decades of experience working in thrust belts of the world. It focuses on the practical issues of exploration and production of hydrocarbons in thrust belts, with the Montana Thrust Belt as the backdrop. It will explain how these concepts can be applied worldwide, where overthrust terrains are increasingly important exploration targets.

The course will integrate concepts of exploration, including a review of fractured reservoir models, structural geology, stratigraphy, and hydrocarbon assessment. The spectacular geology of the Montana Sawtooth Range (an exhumed duplex) will serve as the backdrop for this field seminar. Time in the field will be bolstered by periodic classroom sessions on structural geology concepts, fractured reservoirs, and other issues the explorationist can expect to encounter in thrust belt exploration.

The seminar will utilize traverses to examine multiple thrust sheets exposed in Sun River Canyon, the famous Teton Anticline, and an outstanding example of an exposed fractured reservoir along a fault-propagated fold in Mississippian carbonates as Swift Reservoir. Discussions will involve new ideas on the geometry and kinematics of thrust sheets and how they might influence exploration strategies in those settings.

Participants will discuss the Bakken/Exshaw petroleum system of the Montana Disturbed Belt, and its influence on the emerging resource oil play on the adjacent Sweetgrass Arch. The seminar will continue northward to Glacier National Park, with a cross-section view of the Lewis Thrust, the Chief Mountain klippe, discussions of horizontal Bakken oil drilling on the nearby Blackfeet Indian Reservation and the historical giant gas field production across the border in Alberta, and conclude with a geologic transect along the scenic Going-to-the-Sun Highway of Glacier National Park.

Field Seminar Location
Begins and ends in Great Falls, Montana. More details will follow soon.

Questions on the field school logistics on a local level can be directed to Bill Hansen in Great Falls, MT (406-799-2720, Fax 406-564-4593, email: wbhansen@mcn.net). The Hampton Inn-Great Falls has a free shuttle service to and from the airport. Please plan to fly into Great Falls on Sunday July 12th, and schedule your departure for the following Sunday July 19th. Great Falls is serviced by United (through Denver), Delta (through Salt Lake and Minneapolis) and Alaska/Horizon (through SeaTac).

Call the Hampton when you arrive at the airport at 406-453-2675 and they will pick you up. Please do not make your own reservation at the Hampton. We have a room block reserved for the school, and we will make the reservations for you at this end. We will email your hotel room confirmation number when we receive them from the hotel in late June.

Day 1 | Sunday,  12 July

Travel day to Great Falls.

 Overnight at Hampton Inn, $104.00 + 7% bed tax per person.

 (those of you flying in, phone the Hampton for free airport shuttle at 453-2675 ).

Day 2 | Monday, 13 July
  • 7:30am-8am - Registration: Lobby  - Hampton Inn
  • 8 am - Orientation in front of Hampton
    • Regional Geology and Thrust Belt Discussion (Boyer & Hansen),
  • 8:30 am - Load Suburbans
  • 8:45 am - Broadwater Overlook, Great Falls. Brief discussion of Lewis & Clark expedition.
    • Field Intro to Naturally Occurring Fractures (Hansen) with discussion of difference between tectonic and regional fractures.
    • Fracture Measurement on Lower Cretaceous Kootenai channel sandstone (bring your compass or have a compass “ap” available on your smart phone.)
  • 10:00am - Short hike to Black Eagle Falls, examination of fracture patterns. Discussion of Kootenai sand reservoir potential in NW Montana.
  • 10:30am-12:30 pm - Giant Springs State Park. Fracture patterns in lower Cretaceous rocks. Importance of naturally-occurring fracture conduits to reservoirs with significant matrix porosity. LUNCH BREAK.
  • 1pm - Drive to Belt, Montana Cretaceous/Jurassic Unconformity Outcrop Stratigraphy
  • 2pm - Jurassic Swift Sandstone reservoir potential
  • 3 pm - Sluice Boxes State Park. Mississippian section and importance of karst features in thrust belt reservoirs
  • 4 pm - Miss. Madison/Lodgepole contact (time permitting)
  • 5 pm - Devonian section and/or Memorial Falls hike (time permitting)
  • 6 pm - Return Hampton Inn - Great Falls overnight. $104.00 + tax per person.
  • 7 pm - Group dinner (we will drive to a restaurant and eat together as a group, if you wish, but purely optional) 
Day 3 | Tuesday, 14 July

Thrusted Adel Mountain Volcanics, Craig Anticlinorium, Precambrian Belt thrusted over Mississippian  - Gates-of-the-Mountains Boat Trip (Eldorado Thrust) –Hansen

  • 7:30 am - Check out of Hampton Load Suburbans: This day we will examine the thrusted Late Cretaceous Adel Mtn volcanics and continue to become familiar with the stratigraphy necessary to interpret the Northern Montana Thrust Belt. Later in the day we will examine the southern extension of the Lewis Thrust (Eldorado Thrust) where Precambrian Belt rocks have been thrusted a minimum of 25 miles over Cretaceous and Paleozoic rocks, and we will have a chance to examine the subthrust Mississippian up close via the Gates-of the Mountains cruise boat.
  • 9  am - Thrusted Adel Mtn Volcanics (examination of “Shonkinte”)
  • 10 am - Walking transect through Upper Cretaceous thrusted section near Missouri River
  • 12 noon - Lunch in Prickly Pear Creek Canyon, stratigraphy of Precambrian Belt section, Discussion of Unocal B-1-30 Canyon Creek Well (deepest vertical well in Montana)
  • 2 pm - Board cruise boat for Gates of the Mountains trip in the Missouri River Canyon
  • 4 pm - Drive to Choteau via Lower Cretaceous Blackleaf drag folds in Craig Anticlinorium
  • 5 pm - Overnight at Choteau Stagestop Inn. $85.00 + tax per person. 406-466-5900 (Fax # 406-466-5907)
  • Dinner on your own.
  • 7 pm - Preview of Sun Canyon trip in Stagestop conference room
Day 4 | Wednesday 15 July

Structural Geology of Sun River Canyon-Dr. Steve Boyer; Montana Triangle Zone  (Boyer & Hansen)

  • 7-7:30 am - Continental Breakfast Provided - Stagecoach
  • 7:30 am - Load vehicles, leave Choteau  and proceed to Sun River Canyon via Augusta, brief rest stop at Augusta Mercantile.
  • Stop 1 - Sawtooth Mountain Overlook; Overview of Frontal Sawtooth Range, Discussion of Seismic Interpretation of the Montana Foothills.
  • Stop 2 - Drag Fold exposed in ditch in Vaughn Member of Blackleaf Fm
  • Stop 3 - Lunch Stop - Wagner Basin; Out-of-Sequence Thrusting, Lodgepole/Bakken (Sappington) outcrop
  • Stop 4 - French Thrust Termination
  • Stop 5 - French Thrust Outcrop Exposure
  • Stop 6 - Gibson Dam Overlook
  • Stop 7 - Lithology affect on fracture formation, Sun River outcrop
  • Stop 8 - (optional) Deformed Cretaceous at Front of Sawtooth Thrust Wedge
  • Stop 9 - Deformed Cretaceous in Pishkun Canal, Triangle Zone, walk through deformed mid-Cretaceous to Upper Cretaceous
  • 5:00 pm - Return to Choteau Stagestop Inn. $85.00 + tax per person. 406-466-5900 (Fax # 406-466-5907)
  • Dinner TBA - possible visit to Egg Mountain Dinosaur Site and/or preview of Teton Anticline
  • 9 pm - Good night!
Day5 | Thursday, 16 July

Morning or afternoon classroom session depending on the weather; Teton Canyon Fractures. If weather is bad in morning, we will spend the afternoon in the field or vise-versa.

  • 7:30 am - Regional Geology of Teton Anticline (in front of Stage Stop)
  • 9 am Stop 1 - Sawtooth Front Overview
  • 10 am Stop 2 - Teton Anticline Core
  • 11-12 am Stops 3-6 - North Fork Teton River, Imbricate Thrusts of Sawtooth Range.
  • Lunch at Cave Mountain NF Campground or in Choteau

We will spend the afternoon in the Stagestop conference room, discussing the Timing of Thrusting in the Sawtooth Range (Sears),  looking at a seismic line transect, a Powerpoint on the Alberta Basin Bakken/Exshaw Resource Play in Glacier County (Hansen),  and previews Swift Reservoir trip (Boyer).

  • 5 pm Choteau Overnight at Choteau Stagestop Inn. $85.00 + tax per person. 406-466-5900 (Fax # 406-466-5907)
  • 6:30 pm - Dinner on your own TBA, or possible visit to Egg Mountain Dino Site.
Day 6 | Friday, 17 July

Check out of Stagestop Inn. Fractured Reservoirs and Swift Dam Site/Marias Pass

  • 8 am - Rise and Shine!!!  Load vehicles & drive to Swift Reservoir
  • 10 am - Hike to Swift Dam Reservoir site: Fracture patterns and kinematics of folds. Lunch at Swift Reservoir (south side).
  • 2 pm - Drive to Swift Fold (north side of reservoir.Note:  Our thanks go to the Blackfeet Tribe for allowing us to examine the geology on their tribal land at this stop.)
  • 5 pm - Marias Pass and petroleum systems related to Montana Thrust Belt. Discussion of Longwell & Chevron/Devon drilling applications.
  • 5 pm - Overnight in East Glacier, Mountain Pine Motel ($85 + tax).
  • 7 pm - No host dinner at East Glacier Lodge for those who wish to participate
Day 7 | Saturday, 18 July

Thrusting/Fractures in Glacier National Park/ Blackfeet Reservation Petroleum Systems

Take lots of pictures!!

Thrust Systems of Glacier National Park Lewis Thrust and Precambrian Belt System, Exploration update on adjacent Blackfeet Indian Reservation-implications for thrust belt foredeep resource plays worldwide.

Our stops today will be dependent on timing. There is so much to see in Glacier, we may not be able to see it all, but we want to at least allow you a couple of hours to hike at Logan Pass.

  • 8 am - Load Suburbans, Drive to Trick Falls, Lewis Thrust Exposure (optional)
  • 9 am –East Glacier oil field, POSTER: Horizontal shale-oil drilling in NW Montana. Discussion of horizontal drilling activity in the Mississippian Bakken Shale (Exshaw equivalent) on the Blackfeet Reservation (Hansen).
  • 10:30 Possible camera stop of Chief Mountain (weather-permitting)
  • 11 am - Rest stop at St Mary Lodge, pick up lunches.
  • 12 noon Lunch at St Mary Lake, Glacier National Park
  • 1 pm Board Going-to-the-Sun-Shuttle
  • 1:30 pm Lunch Creek - Short hike to spectacular Precambrian Belt microbial carbonates (stromatolites), discussion of importance of microbial carbonate reservoirs around the world
  • 2 pm-4 pm: Logan Pass Visitor Center, Continental Divide. We will allow two hours of free time to hike at Logan Pass
  • 4 pm: Sun Rift Gorge (if open)
  • 5 pm: Chief  Mountain Klippe (if not visible earlier in the day) from Duck Lake Campground  Discussion of Cretaceous/Mississippian source rocks and migration pathways on Blackfeet Reservation (Hansen)
  • Late return to Hampton-Great Falls 7 pm. No host dinner in Great Falls
Expires on
14 June, 2015
Early Tuition
Expires on
18 July, 2015
Regular Tuition
20 people

PLEASE NOTE:  Registrants in AAPG Field Seminars must complete and sign the Release and Indemnity Form on the bottom of the Registration Form (or read and agree to the appropriate box during online registration.) Your registration will not be complete until we have your signed form in our files.

Tuition includes lunches, transportation, guidebooks, admission to Glacier National Park, and some additional meals. No refunds for cancellations after 6/15/2015.


Steven E. Boyer Independent Consultancy, Tacoma, Washington, USA
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James (Jim) Sears University of Montana, USA
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Charles F. Kluth Kluth & Associates, Littleton, Colorado, USA
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William B. Hansen Jireh Consulting Services, Great Falls, Montana, USA
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Stephanie Brown AAPG Assistant Registrar +1 918 560-2930
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Debbi Boonstra Education Manager +1 918 560-2630
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