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

8-13 September 2014
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.

Questions on the field school logistics on a local level can be directed to Bill Hansen in Great Falls, MT (406-452-6783, Fax 406-564-4593). The Hampton Inn-Great Falls has a free shuttle service to and from the airport. 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 notify you of your hotel room confirmation number when we receive them from the hotel in late June.

Sunday, September 7, 2014
Travel day to Great Falls.

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

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

Monday , September 8, 2014
Intro. to Fractured Reservoirs, Structure and Stratigraphy of Montana Thrust Belt

Registration opens followed by a classroom session covering Thrust Belt Concepts, Terminology, & Worldwide Exploration; an Introduction to Fractured Reservoirs & Sawtooth Range (Boyer) and Orientation, Logistics. Then we'll load the party bus and go to Black Eagle Falls overlook. We'll spend the night in Great Falls.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Thrusted Adel Mountain Volcanics, Craig Anticlinorium, Precambrian Belt thrusted over Mississippian - Gates-of-the-Mountains Boat Trip (Eldorado Thrust) –Hansen

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.

Wednesday September 10, 2014
Structural Geology of Sun River Canyon-Dr. Steve Boyer & Dr. Jim Sears; Montana Triangle Zone (Sears & Hansen)

After breakfast we leave Great Falls and proceed to Sun River Canyon. Highlights of this trip include: 

  • Sawtooth Mountain Overlook; Overview of Frontal Sawtooth Range, Discussion of Seismic Interpretation of the Montana Foothills.
  • French Thrust
  • Gibson Dam Overlook
  • French Thrust Termination
  • Wagner Basin; Out-of-Sequence Thrusting
  • Wagner Basin; Dead Oil
  • Deformed Cretaceous at Front of Sawtooth Thrust wedge
  • If time permits we'll look at Deformed Cretaceous at Front of Sawtooth Thrust Wedge and Pishkun Canal, Montana foothills Triangle Zone
  • We will return via Pishkun canal, looking at the Montana triangle zone along the way.

Thursday September 11, 2014

Morning Classroom Session; Teton Canyon Fractures

We will spend the morning in the hotel 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 of Teton Canyon and Swift Reservoir trips (Boyer), then head out at lunch time to the Teton Anticline to examine fracture patterns in Teton Canyon. Then we'll pick up our lunches and head for Sawtooth Front Overview, Teton Anticline Core and North Fork Teton River, Imbricate Thrusts of Sawtooth Range.

Friday September 12, 2014

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. Highlights for today include Chief Mountain Klippe (Boyer). View from Duck Lake Campground Discussion of Cretaceous/Mississippian source rocks and migration pathways on Blackfeet Reservation (Hansen). 

The rest of the day will be spent at a relaxing pace riding the free shuttle along the famous "Going-To-The-Sun Highway" in Glacier National Park to discuss the Thrust Systems in the park, and of course to take pictures (Sears, Kluth, & Boyer, and Hansen). It will conclude at Marias Pass with a discussion of Lewis Thrust in Glacier National Park, Longwell/Chevron well proposals. (Boyer & Hansen)

Saturday September 13, 2014
Fractured Reservoirs and Swift Dam Site/Marias Pass

Today's trip takes us to Swift Dam Reservoir site: Fracture patterns and kinematics of folds. (Note: Our thanks go to the Blackfeet Tribe for allowing us to examine the geology on their tribal land at this stop.)

Download complete itinerary.

Expires on
10 August, 2014
Early Tuition
Expires on
13 September, 2014
Regular Tuition
20 people

Includes lunches, transportation, guidebooks, admission to Glacier National Park, and some additional meals.
No refunds for cancellations after 11 August 2014.


Steven E. Steven E. Boyer Independent Consultancy, Tacoma, Washington, USA
Charles F. Charles F. Kluth Kluth & Associates, Littleton, Colorado, USA
James (Jim) Sears University of Montana, USA
William B. William B. Hansen Jireh Consulting Services, Great Falls, Montana, USA
Vicky Vicky Kroh Registrar +1 918 560 2650
Debbi Debbi Boonstra Education Coordinator +1 918 560-2630

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