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Geology Lesson at Giant Springs State Park

I was at Giant Springs State Park this morning looking for some photo ops. Before I drove the short distance from my house in Great Falls, I looked at the sky and said “yup, good sunshine coming through the clouds”. As I was driving along River Road I saw that sunshine slip behind the clouds and only saw glimpses of it after that.

I had fun taking photos at the state park though and the first one (at left) has some sunshine and interesting clouds poking through the treetops.

I saw one vehicle in the parking lot when I got there and what looked like a grandpa and grandson strolling along with a fishing rod and tackle box. It would be a chilly day for fishing.

While I was taking photos of the actual giant springs I saw some interesting geology signs.

I learned that the water I was looking at started a downward trek from the Madison limestone formation in the Little Belt Mountains southeast of Great Falls. The limestone is exposed at the land surface in the mountains and water then travels through the formation down the mountain towards Great Falls.

At Giant Springs the Madison Formation is still there but it is about 400 feet below the surface. Pressure caused from the rock layers pushes the water up through cracks in the top layer of sandstone. It bubbles, it gushes and it is relaxing to watch.

The water temperature is a constant 54 degrees year round. It’s cool and refreshing in the summer and frosty and rather brisk feeling during winter. When the temperature really dips there is heavy frost around the springs and lots of mist in the air.

I didn’t stay too long at Giant Springs this morning but it felt good to get out, walk along the manicured lawns and stroll by the springs. A great way to start the day.

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