The southern Madison Range of southwestern Montana contains two distinct Precambrian lithologic assemblages: (1) a complex of tonalitic to granitic gneisses that has been thrust over (2) a medium-grade metasupracrustal sequence dominated by pelitic schist. Crystallization ages for the protolith of a granodioritic gneiss that intruded the meta-supracrustal sequence (∼2.6 Ga) along with an intercalated meta-an-desite (∼2.7 Ga) confirm the sequence as Archean. Chemical (major and trace element), isotopic (Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, Pb-Pb), and geochronologic (U-Pb zircon) data for selected components of the gneiss complex indicate two groups of gneisses: an older, tonalitic to trondhjemitic group (∼3.3 Ga) and a younger, mostly granitic group (∼2.7 Ga).
Both groups of gneisses exhibit the radiogenic Pb and nonradiogenic Nd isotopic signature characteristic of Middle and Late Archean rocks from throughout the Wyoming province. The older gneisses, in particular, appear to be compositionally, isotopically, and chronologically comparable to other Middle Archean gneisses from the northern part of the province (for example, Beartooth Mountains). The Late Archean gneisses, however, exhibit some distinct differences relative to their temporal counterparts, including (1) trace-element patterns that are more suggestive of crustal melts than subduction activity and (2) higher initial Sr isotopic ratios that suggest more involvement of older crust in their petrogenesis. These comparisons suggest that the juxtaposition of Late Archean terranes in the northern Wyoming province was the result, at least in part, of intracratonic processes.