VFE: Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, Montana, is a superlative place, full of scenic grandeur, inspiring wildlife, and challenging recreational opportunities. Its rocks, structures, and landscape features tell an epic geological story that spans one and a half billion years of time. Going a bit further afield into the surrounding area gives more context to Glacier’s story, so this virtual field experience (VFE) also includes visits to sites on the adjacent lands of the Blackfeet Nation as well as Swift Dam and Sun River Canyon, further south in the Sawtooth Range, and Little Prickly Pear Canyon, north of Helena.

The VFE examines the evidence for different modes of (1) sedimentation through the Mesoproterozoic, Mississippian, and Cretaceous, (2) a Mesozoic episode of mountain building, and (3) recent “Ice Age” glaciation. The cumulative result of all these processes is the park we can explore today. Each of the pages covering these distinct processes includes embedded self-quizzes, so students can assess their own understanding of key concepts as they read.

We have also prepared an informal “quiz” that instructors can use to review some of the relevant concepts with their students.

Enjoy exploring this fascinating place!