The Ennis 1:100,000 quadrangle lies within both the Laramide (Late Cretaceous to early Tertiary) foreland province of southwestern Montana and the northeastern margin of the middle to late Tertiary Basin and Range province.
The oldest rocks in the quadrangle are Archean high-grade gneiss, and granitic to ultramafic intrusive rocks that are as old as about 3.0 Ga. The gneiss includes a supracrustal assemblage of quartz-feldspar gneiss, amphibolite, quartzite, and biotite schist and gneiss. The basement rocks are overlain by a platform sequence of sedimentary rocks as old as Cambrian Flathead Quartzite and as young as Upper Cretaceous Livingston Group sandstones, shales, and volcanic rocks.
The Archean crystalline rocks crop out in the cores of large basement uplifts, most notably the 'Madison-Gravelly arch' that includes parts of the present Tobacco Root Mountains and the Gravelly, Madison, and Gallatin Ranges. These basement uplifts or blocks were thrust westward during the Laramide orogeny over rocks as young as Upper Cretaceous. The thrusts are now exposed in the quadrangle along the western flanks of the Gravelly and Madison Ranges (the Greenhorn thrust and the Hilgard fault system, respectively). Simultaneous with the west-directed thrusting, northwest-striking, northeast-side-up reverse faults formed a parallel set across southwestern Montana; the largest of these is the Spanish Peaks fault, which cuts prominently across the Ennis quadrangle.
Beginning in late Eocene time, extensive volcanism of the Absorka Volcanic Supergroup covered large parts of the area; large remnants of the volcanic field remain in the eastern part of the quadrangle. The volcanism was concurrent with, and followed by, middle Tertiary extension. During this time, the axial zone of the 'Madison-Gravelly arch,' a large Laramide uplift, collapsed, forming the Madison Valley, structurally a complex down-to-the-east half graben. Basin deposits as thick as 4,500 m filled the graben.
Pleistocene glaciers sculpted the high peaks of the mountain ranges and formed the present rugged topography.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Geologic map of the Ennis 30' x 60' quadrangle, Madison and Gallatin Counties, Montana