Skip to Main Content


The catastrophic Hebgen Lake earthquake of 18 August 1959 (MW7.3) led many geoscientists to develop new methods to better understand active tectonics in extensional tectonic regimes that address seismic hazards. The Madison Range fault system and adjacent Hebgen Lake–Red Canyon fault system provide an intermountain-active tectonic analog for regional analyses of extensional crustal deformation. The Madison Range fault system comprises fault zones (~100 km in length) that have multiple salients and embayments marked by preexisting structures exposed in the footwall. Quaternary tectonic activity rates differ along the length of the fault system, with less displacement to the north. Within the Hebgen Lake basin, the 1959 earthquake is the latest slip event in the Hebgen Lake–Red Canyon fault system and southern Madison Range fault system. Geomorphic and paleoseismic investigations indicate previous faulting events on both fault systems. Surficial geologic mapping and historic seismicity support a coseismic structural linkage between the Madison Range and Hebgen Lake–Red Canyon fault systems.

On this trip, we will look at Quaternary surface ruptures that characterize prehistoric earthquake magnitudes. The one-day field trip begins and ends in Bozeman, and includes an overview of the active tectonics within the Madison Valley and Hebgen Lake basin, southwestern Montana. We will also review geologic evidence, which includes new geologic maps and geomorphic analyses that demonstrate preexisting structural controls on surface rupture patterns along the Madison Range and Hebgen Lake–Red Canyon fault systems.

You do not currently have access to this chapter.

Figures & Tables




Citing Books via

Close Modal
This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only

Sign In or Create an Account

Close Modal
Close Modal