ABSTRACT

The Great Falls tectonic zone, here named, is a belt of diverse northeast-trending geologic features that can be traced from the Idaho batholith in the Cordilleran miogeocline, across thrust-belt structures and basement rocks of west-central and southwestern Montana, through cratonic rocks of central Montana, and into southwesternmost Saskatchewan, Canada. Geologic mapping in east-central Idaho and west-central Montana has outlined a continuous zone of high-angle faults and shear zones. These structures (1) extend more than 150 km (93 mi) northeastward from near Salmon, Idaho, toward Anaconda, Montana, (2) had recurrent movement from middle Proterozoic to Holocene time, (3) controlled the intrusion and orientation of Late Cretaceous to early Tertiary dike swarms, and (4) controlled the uplift and orientation of the Anaconda-Pintlar Range. Recurrent fault movement in this zone and strong structural control over igneous intrusion suggest a fundamental tectonic feature that has influenced the tectonic development of the Idaho-Montana area from at least middle Proterozoic time to the present.

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