Chasing an Ancient Volcanic Firestorm in the Northern Cordillera of Montana

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 11-4-2020


volcanism, Montana, Eocene, magmatism


The Eocene Epoch was characterized by an outburst of volcanism in the northern Cordillera, stretching from the northwestern United States to central British Columbia. Volcanism was contemporaneous with a tectonic shift to extensional conditions that together dramatically reshaped the landscape, formed valuable ore deposits, and drove a warming climate. Eocene volcanic centers preserved throughout the northern Cordillera hold an exquisite record of magmatism, but many remain understudied despite their importance to understanding fundamental tectonomagmatic processes and potential long-term impacts on civilization. This talk explores several of Montana’s Eocene volcanic centers, presenting new data and insights into this fascinating and somewhat enigmatic part of Earth’s history.

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Dr. Jesse Mosolf is a field geologist at the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology. His research focuses on Cordilleran tectonics using detailed geologic mapping, microscopy, radiometric dating, and modeling. He has participated in numerous fieldinspired research projects in Bolivia, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Nevada, and Montana. Jesse earned his B.S. in Chemistry from MSU, Bozeman, his M.S in Geology from University of California, Los Angeles and his Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from University of California, Santa Barbara.