Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Geology (MS)

Degree Level





Gregory Dumond

Committee Member

Margaret Guccione

Second Committee Member

Steve Boss


Earth sciences, Geochronology, Gneiss dome, Monazite, Montana, Structural geology


The Highland Mountains of southwestern Montana offer a unique view of the Archean igneous and metamorphic rocks within the Great Falls tectonic zone (GFTZ). A Paleoproterozoic structural gneiss dome has been interpreted in the southern extent of the Highland Mountains. The ∼ 130km2 of exhumed metamorphic rocks and gneiss dome exposed in the Highland Mountains are the primary focus of this research. The formation of the Highland Mountains gneiss dome is proposed to be directly related to a northwest-side down detachment (the Steels Pass shear zone) that formed during terrane collision along the GFTZ. The field investigation determined foliation and lineation orientation measurements taken at 65 stations. Twenty-two field oriented samples were obtained from a variety of rock types distributed across the ∼ 24 km2 field area. Three field-based domains were established from the lithology, foliation, and lineation observations. Full-section X-ray maps of three sample thin-sections were collected via EPMA to identify all monazite grains. Twenty-eight grains were mapped at high-spatial resolution (0.3–6.0 μm). Thin section micro-structures observed show effects of a multistage deformation history with both dynamic and static recrystallization processes. Monazite geochronology of one thin section revealed two distinct populations of monazite grains; Archean (∼ 2.5 Ga) and Mesoproterozoic (∼ 1.5 Ga). The older population represents the crystallization age of either, or both the Medicine Hat block and the Wyoming province terranes. The younger population is hypothesized to have grown during deformation/alteration associated with the formation of the Belt-Purcell Rift Basin.