New Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology video follows Corps of Discovery journey with attention to geologic history

Shot of the Missouri River with text "The Geological Story of the Corps of Discovery in Montana, A MBMG Production"

The Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology has released a new video that tracks the journeys of the Lewis and Clark Expedition through the lens of geological history.

“The Geological Story of the Corps of Discovery in Montana” follows Dr. Steve Quane in a canoe journey through the White Cliffs section of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, near Fort Benton.

Quane is a volcanologist, director of the Mineral Museum at Montana Technological University, and an assistant professor with the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, where he works with the outreach program. Quane traces Lewis and Clark’s Expedition using journal entries from May 1805 that vividly describe the surrounding land features.

“It is fascinating how these more than 200-year-old observations relate to our current understanding of the frontier geology of Montana,” Quane narrates. “Indeed, the Corps of Discovery were not the first peoples to interact with and attempt to understand these landscapes. However, their journals are the oldest written observational record of rock types and landforms to which we have access. In 1805 the science of geology was in its infancy, and therefore the Corps of Discovery had little to no training in the subject. That being said, while some of their interpretations do not stand the test of time, their core observations hold great value.”

The interpretations follow those previously done by MBMG scientists Bob Bergantino, Kenneth Sandau and Ginette Abdo. The Foundation of Montana History provided a grant to help fund the project. It was filmed and produced by both Quane and Seonaid “Sho” Campbell, a freelance writer and documentary filmmaker whose work has appeared in High Country News, BBC Natural History Unit, Big Sky Journal, Western Art & Architecture and Outside Magazine.

Quane hopes to produce more videos that take people into areas that might otherwise be inaccessible. He’s currently working on a video that takes viewers into the Underground Mine Education Center (UMEC) on the campus of Montana Tech. He hopes the video will be uploaded to a VR headset, which people could watch at the Mineral Museum. He has other areas of geologic interest he would like to explore, film, and share, including caverns in Montana.

To stay up-to-date with the latest content from Quane and the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, subscribe to the MBMG YouTube channel.