The geologic map of the White Sulphur Springs quadrangle, scale 1:100,000, was made as part of the Montana Investigations Project to provide new information on the stratigraphy, structure, and geologic history of the geologically complex area in west-central Montana. The quadrangle encompasses about 4,235 km2 (1,635 mi2), across part of the Smith River basin, the west end of the Little Belt Mountains, the Castle Mountains, and the upper parts of the basins of the North Forks of the Smith and Musselshell Rivers and the Judith River. Geologically the quadrangle extends across the eastern part of the Helena structural salient in the Rocky Mountain thrust belt, a segment of the Lewis and Clark tectonic zone, west end of the ancestral central Montana uplift, and the southwest edge of the Judith basin.
Rocks and sediments in the White Sulphur Springs quadrangle are assigned to 88 map units on the basis of rock or sediment type and age. The oldest rock exposed is Neoarchean diorite that is infolded with Paleoproterozoic metamorphic rocks including gneiss, diorite, granite, amphibolite, schist, and mixed metamorphic rock types. A thick succession of the Mesoproterozoic Belt Supergroup unconformably overlies the metamorphic rocks and, in turn, is overlain unconformably by Phanerozoic sedimentary and volcanic rocks. Across most of the quadrangle, the pre-Tertiary stratigraphic succession is intruded by Eocene dikes, sills, and plutons. The central part of the Little Belt Mountains is generally underlain by laccoliths and sheet-like bodies of quartz monzonite or dacite. Oligocene andesitic basalt flows in the western and southern part of the quadrangle document both the configuration of the late Eocene erosional surfaces and the extent of extensional faulting younger than early Oligocene in the area.
Pliocene, Miocene, and Oligocene strata, mapped as 11 units, consist generally of interbedded sand, gravel, and tuffaceous sedimentary rock. Quaternary and Quaternary-Tertiary sediments rest across the older Cenozoic deposits and across all older rocks. The Quaternary and Quaternary-Tertiary deposits generally are gravels that mantle broad erosional surfaces on the flanks of the mountains, gravels in stream channels, and colluvium and landslide deposits on hill sides. Glacial deposits, representing at least two stages of glaciation, are present in the northern part of the Little Belt Mountains.
The geologic structure of much of the northwest part of the quadrangle is a broad uplift, in the core of which the Paleoproterozoic and Neoarchean metamorphic rocks are exposed. Down plunge to the east, the succession of Phanerozoic sedimentary rocks define an east-trending arch, cored locally by Mesoproterozoic strata of the Belt Supergroup. The north flank of the arch dips steeply north as a monocline. Stratigraphic relations among Mississippian, Pennsylvanian, and Jurassic strata document the recurrent uplift and erosion on that north flank. The broader arch of the Little Belt Mountains reflects the west plunge of the ancestral Central Montana uplift.
The eastern extension of the Lewis and Clark tectonic zone is exposed in the southern half of the quadrangle where the Volcano Valley fault zone curves from west to southeast as a reverse fault along which the latest movement is up on the south side. The fault zone ends in an anticline in the south-central margin of the quadrangle. Stratigraphic overlap of Phanerozoic strata over the truncated edges of Mesoproterozoic units documents that the area of the eastern terminus of the fault zone was tectonically recurrently active.
Northeast trending strike-slip faults displace Mesoproterozoic rocks in the northwest and south-central parts of the quadrangle. Several of those faults are overlain unconformably by the Middle Cambrian Flathead Sandstone. Other north-east and west-trending faults across the central part of the quadrangle are intruded by middle Eocene plutons. You