One of my favorite places in the whole world is along the Clark Fork River in Paradise, Montana. When we drove to Bigfork the other day, we had the good fortune to see the Prichard Formation
on a perfect day. Turquoise water in the foreground and deep red-rust hues in the background. The Prichard Formation is 1.5 billion years old and the outcrop in the photo is called an overthrust belt. Jutting up from the earth at an angle, it is among the oldest exposed rock in Montana. Why do I like it? My grandfather, who lived in Central Oregon, taught me to be a rock hound at an early age. It was at his behest that I started collecting minerals. He gave me some fine specimens. He also lived very close to the John Day Fossil Beds and the painted hills. There was a mountainous rock across from his compound on the Ochoco Reservoir. My brothers and I could scramble, hunt for rocks, and see bats hanging upside down. So, when I see the big lump of rock on the other side of the Clark Fork, I feel at home. The Prichard Formation extends over a wide area…the part you see here is only a fraction. The bottom of it is so deep, it’s never been found. “The Prichard formed as layer upon layer of sand, silt and clay was deposited from a river delta into a sea covering parts of what is now Montana, Idaho, Washington and Canada,” according to the Lolo National Forest historical marker “Over millions of years, heat and pressure turned the sediments into a hard, metamorphic rock, argillite.” If you are interested in scientific information about this geological wonder, click here to read Dinochick Blogs (billed as “Random Posting on Geology and Paleontology with a bit of spunk and sass thrown in.”) Below, the National Park Service information graphic shows that the Prichard and Altyn Formations are underneath all other masses in Glacier National Park.
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