Field Trips



Sequence Stratigraphy and Facies of the Campanian
Eagle Sandstone/Shannon Sandstone Depositional System

Date:              Friday, June 23 through Sunday June 25

Leaders:         Michael Hofmann (AIM GeoAnalytics);
                       James Staub (University of Montana)

Fee:                $350 (single occ.); $250 (dbl. occ.)

Limit:             22 persons

The 2.5-day, 2-night field trip will visit outcrops of the Campanian Eagle Sandstone around Billings and the time equivalent Shannon Sandstone in the western Powder River Basin (Salt Creek Anticline). These outcrops provide an excellent view of the reservoir complexity present in those basins. Through the course of the trip we will make observations regarding lithofacies, transport processes, early diagenesis, stratigraphic architecture, and spatial heterogeneity of these reservoirs in the context of accommodation cycles and source to sink sediment routing.

Who Should Attend

Employees of oil and gas companies in technical to management positions interested in Cretaceous conventional and low permeability reservoirs in Rocky Mountain basins.


Friday, June 23

Depart from Billings at 3:00 PM. Arrive at hotel in Sheridan, WY at 6:00 PM. Introduction to the field trip agenda.

Saturday, June 24

Depart for field area at 7:30 AM. Examine and discuss Shannon Sandstone outcrops in the Salt Creek area. Return to Sheridan, WY at 6:00 PM.

Sunday, June 25

Depart hotel at 7:00 AM. Drive to Billings. Examine and discuss Eagle Sandstone outcrops around Billings. Arrive at meeting hotel in Billings at 4:00 PM.

Michael H. Hofmann is a native of Germany but has lived and worked in Montana and Texas for the last 15 years. He is the co-founder and CEO of AIM GeoAnalytics a geological service company providing standard and integrated geologic core analyses to the energy industry. Before founding AIM he has worked for ConocoPhillips’ Subsurface Technology Sedimentary Systems and Shale Stratigraphy Research Groups in Houston, TX. He is currently also a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Montana specializing on applied stratigraphy and sedimentary research. Michael got his Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Montana.

James R. Staub is a Professor of Geosciences and the Department Chair at the University of Montana. Prior to starting at UM in 2003 he was a faculty member at Southern Illinois University Carbondale for 15 years. He began his career in the energy industry in the late 1970’s working for Cannelton Industries. His current research is focused on the sedimentology and sequence stratigraphy of the Cretaceous Telegraph Creek, Eagle, and Claggett formations in central Montana.


Sequence Stratigraphy, Reservoir Facies and Ichnology
of the Bakken and Three Forks formations, Montana

2Date:              Friday, June 23 through Sunday, June 25

Leaders:       P. Ted Doughty (PRISEM Geoscience Consulting);
                     George Grader, Jr. (PRISEM Geoscience Consulting);
                     Bev Rice (University of Idaho)

Fee:              CLOSED

Limit:            15 persons

This 2.5-day, 2-night Bakken field trip provides participants the unique opportunity to see the Three Forks and Bakken Formations and associated strata in outcrop. All of the important facies and sequences of subsurface formations will be seen, including trace fossils and subtle features difficult to observe in core.   After buck boarding to Three Forks late on Friday, Day One examines the Bakken and lower Lodgepole on private ranches near the type section. Day Two examines the reservoir facies of the Three Forks formation and upper Bakken shale on the return to Billings.

Who should attend

Any geologists interested in seeing the Three Forks and Bakken Formations in outcrop .


Friday, June 23

Depart from Billings at between 3-4 pm. Arrive at Lewis and Clark Motel in Three Forks, MT

Saturday, June 24

Examine the Bakken and lower Lodgepole near the type section

Sunday, June 25

Examine reservoir facies of the Three Forks and upper Bakken shale. Return to Billings by 6 pm.

Ted Doughty received his B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis (1986), his M.S. from the University of Montana (1990), and his Ph.D. from Queen’s University (1995). After stints with Amoco and Exxon Production Research Company, he achieved the rank of associate professor at Eastern Washington University before forming PRISEM Geoscience in 2005. PRISEM has worked extensively in the Rockies, Mid-Continent and Caribbean and has been researching and leading fieldtrips on Bakken outcrops in Montana since 2008.

George W. Grader, Jr. is a stratigrapher with PRISEM Geoscience Consulting LLC. George received his BS from Colby College and his M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the University of Idaho focusing on Devonian and Mississippian strata in the northern Rockies, and Late Paleozoic strata in the central Andes. Since joining PRISEM in 2007, he has worked on exploration projects in the Paleozoic of Montana and North Dakota. George leads the PRISEM Sappington/Three Forks field project and has personally measured over 70 sections in western Montana.

Bev Rice is a PhD student in biostratigraphy at the University of Idaho, where she is combining her love of field work, fossils and microfossil lab work to define the chronology of sedimentation and changes in depositional environments of the Sappington and upper Three Forks formations in Montana


The Phosphoria Formation in southwestern Montana:
a transect from the shelf to the basin
and the Geology of Yellowstone National Park

3Date:              Saturday, June 24 through Sunday June 25

Leaders:         Marc S. Hendrix (University of Montana);

Fee:                SORRY – THIS TRIP IS SOLD OUT

Limit:             22 persons 

The main theme of this 2-day, 1-night field trip is the paleogeography, depositional mechanisms and sequence stratigraphy of the Phosphoria Formation and the potential of the Phosphoria as a hydrocarbon source-rock and reservoir. This trip will pass directly through Yellowstone National Park from its eastern to western entrances. As such, two subsidiary themes that will be addressed will be sedimentation associated with the Eocene Absaroka Volcanics Group and the geodynamics, volcanism and thermal features associated with the Yellowstone Volcano.

Who Should Attend

Geoscientists interested in the Phosphoria Formation as a petroleum exploration play and anyone interested in a look at geology of one of the Earth’s largest active caldera-forming volcanic systems.


Friday, June 24

Depart from Billings at 7 am. Stops to view Ervay member of the Phosphoria formation near Cody, WY, then into Yellowstone Park to view Eocene and Quaternary volcanics, hydrothermal features, and basin and range faulting in the Centennial Valley, Montana. Overnight in Lima, Montana.

Saturday, June 25

Depart hotel at 8:00 AM. Examine various outcrops of the Phosphoria in southwestern, MT, returning to Billings by 7 pm.

Marc S. Hendrix is a Professor of Geology at The University of Montana and co-founder of AIM Geoanalytics, a geologic consulting and analysis company based in Missoula, Montana. Hendrix earned a B.A. in Geology from Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio (1985), a M.S. in Geology and Geophysics from The University of Wisconsin (1987) and a Ph.D. in Applied Earth Sciences from Stanford University (1992) where he conducted dissertation and post-doctoral research in northwestern China and Mongolia. Hendrix arrived at UM in 1994 where he teaches sedimentary geology. His research interests include the petrology of organic-rich mudstone sequences and documenting the fill history and geodynamics of sedimentary basins in North America, Asia, and East Africa.

Structural Geology of the Pryor Mountains, south-central, Montana

4Date:              Wednesday, June 28

Leaders:         Emily Geraghty Ward (Rocky Mountain College);
                       David Lopez (Consultant)

Fee:                 CLOSED

Limit:             22 persons


The emphasis of this 1-day field trip is the description and examination of the structures that define the edges of the northern part of the Pryor-Big Horn structural block, Laramide structures along the northern part of the Pryor Mountains, and more detailed structural analysis in the Crooked Creek area of the southern Pryor Mountains. Stratigraphic bedrock units from Archean age through Upper Cretaceous are exposed in the area as well as interesting Quaternary and Pliocene alluvial deposits related to the ancestral Shoshone River.

Who Should Attend

Anyone interested in the local geology and Laramide structures should sign up for the trip.   There will not be any long walks; most stops will be distant views from the vehicles until we get to the south end of the Pryor Mountains where detailed structures will be described.


This 1-day field trip will leave Billings between 7:30 am and 8:30 am on June 28th taking Blue Creek Road south to Pryor Creek Road, then west to Pryor, MT.   We will then proceed east on Pryor-St. Xavier road to view the east front of the Pryor Mountains. We will back track to Pryor and continue west to Edgar and will view the north front of the Pryor Mountains. At Edgar we will turn to the south on Highway 310 to Bridger. Just south of Bridger we will proceed east on Sage Creek Road through Red Dome and Nye-Bowler Fault system.   At the west margin of the Pryor Mountains we will proceed south on BLM roads to the south end of the Pryor Mountains in the Crooked Creek area. Return to Billings by 6 PM, same day.

Emily Geraghty Ward is an Assistant Professor of Geology at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana where she has been teaching since 2011.  Prior to coming to Rocky, Emily worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Michigan State University in the Geocognition Research Lab.  She completed her PhD at University of Montana in 2007 and her MS at Washington State University in 2002.  During her graduate work, Emily focused on characterizing mesoscale brittle structures within deformed carbonates and interpreting the development of those structures with time.  Emily continues to pursue this area of study as part of research projects she does with her students.

David Lopez is an independent consulting geologist in Billings, Montana (2009 to present).  His prior experience includes 8 years with the USGS doing geologic mapping and structural and stratigraphic research in southwestern Montana and east-central Idaho; 15 years in oil and gas exploration with North American Resources; and 15 years with the MT Bureau of Mines and Geology conducting regional geologic mapping and structural, stratigraphic, and oil and gas research.


Fractures and Folds in a Thrust Belt/Foreland Interface:
The Western Crazy Mountains Basin, Montana

5Date:             Wednesday, June 28 through Thursday, June 29

Leaders:         William B. Hansen (Jireh Consulting);
                       Steve Boyer (Consultant)

Fee:               CLOSED

Limit:             22 persons


This 2-day, 1-night field trip will examine Cretaceous through Paleozoic stratigraphy in the Central Montana Foreland as it transitions westward into the Helena Salient of the Montana Thrust Belt. Participants will have the opportunity to examine and discuss mechanics of thrust belt structures which intersect the Western Crazy Mountain Basin.

Who Should Attend

Exploration and development geologists, geophysicists and E&P managers who desire an additional understanding of the role fractures play in a frontier deep basin/thrust belt transitional play.


Wednesday June 28th:

Depart from Billings by 8 am. Examine fracture trends and stratigraphy of Mississippian through Cretaceous strata along the perimeter of the Crazy Mountain Basin. Arrive White Sulfur Springs at 6 pm. Optional evening presentation.

Thursday June 29th:

Depart White Sulfur Springs at 8 am. Travel south to Ringling Anticline and discussion of recent deep thrust belt drilling along by Bill Barrett Corp., then on to Middle Fork Anticline outcrops to examine thrusted Mississippian Lodgepole/Mission Canyon outcrops and fractures. Time permitting, optional stops to view Mississippian oil seeps and hydrothermal calcite deposits near Hunter Hot Springs. Return Billings by 6 pm.

William B. (Bill) Hansen is a consulting geologist in Great Falls, MT. He has 37 years experience working in Montana, Southern Alberta, and the adjacent North Dakota Williston Basin. After working with the U.S. Dept. of Interior (U.S. Geological Survey, MMS, and BLM), he started his own consulting company in 1996, Jireh Consulting Services. He is a past-president of the Montana Geological Society, edited and co-authored the MGS 1991 Bakken Guidebook, and co-chaired the MGS Montana/AlbertaThrust Belt field symposium in 2000. Since 1997, he has been a co-leader of the AAPG Montana Thrust Belt Field School with Steve Boyer. He received a B.A in Geology from Augustana College-Illinois in 1976 and an M.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1979.

Steve Boyer is a consultant in Tacoma, Washington, specializing in research related to structural, tectonic, and seismic interpretations. He has been involved with the Rocky Mountain Thrust Belt, Alaska Brooks Range, and the back-arc region of the Indonesian Island chain. He currently teaches popular Structural Geology short courses worldwide through Petroskills. Since 1997, he has been a co-leader of the AAPG Montana Thrust Belt Field School with Bill Hansen. He has worked for ARCO and SOHIO in the past and consulted with numerous international oil companies. In 1991-92 he was an AAPG Distinguished Lecturer. He received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1978.