OF-03-19 Geologic Map of the Manitou Springs Quadrangle, El Paso and Teller Counties, Colorado


The purpose of Colorado Geological Survey Open File Report 03-19, Geologic Map of the Manitou Springs Quadrangle, El Paso and Teller Counties, Colorado is to describe the geologic setting, mineral resource potential, and geologic hazards of this 7.5-minute quadrangle located directly west of Colorado Springs. Digital PDF download. OF-03-19D

From the Author’s Notes:

The Manitou Springs 7.5-minute quadrangle is located in western El Paso County and southeastern Teller County in central Colorado. The westernmost part of the city of Colorado Springs is on the eastern edge of the quadrangle, and the city of Manitou Springs is entirely within the northeastern part of the quadrangle. The southwestern part of the Garden of the Gods Park, a famous and popular geologic site, occupies the northeastern corner of the quadrangle. The summit of Pikes Peak (14,110 ft), one of the most famous mountains in the United States, is 2.5 mi west of the Manitou Springs quadrangle.

There is 6,250 ft of vertical relief in the Manitou Springs quadrangle. The highest point is Almagre Mountain (12,367 ft). The lowest point (approximately 6,117 ft) is along Fountain Creek in the northeastern part of the quadrangle. Fountain Creek is the largest creek in the quadrangle and flows in a southeasterly direction. Several smaller creeks originate in the mountains and are tributary to Fountain Creek, which flows into the Arkansas River in Pueblo. Some of the higher, western areas of the quadrangle are protected watershed. Lake Moraine, Manitou Reservoir, and Big Tooth Reservoir are part of the water supply system for Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs and are not accessible to the general public. Much of the mountainous part of the quadrangle is in the Pike National Forest and is generally open to public access. Numerous trails provide recreational opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, mineral collecting, off-road motorcycles, and ATVs.

Most of the quadrangle is in the rugged and forested terrain of the southern Front Range. The mountainous area is underlain predominantly by Proterozoic granitic rocks of the Pikes Peak batholith. In the northeastern part of the quadrangle, the Ute Pass fault zone places the Precambrian granitic rocks into contact with Paleozoic and Mesozoic sedimentary rocks that underlie the Colorado Piedmont. Representative exposures of Lower Paleozoic sedimentary rocks in the eastern Front Range are present in the Manitou Springs embayment, a structural and topographic feature that formed in the transfer zone between the northwest-striking Ute Pass fault to the south and the north-striking Rampart Range fault to the north. The southern segment of the Rampart Range fault is exposed in the Garden of the Gods Park and is in large part responsible for the spectacular vertical “fins” of colorful sandstone that make the park an attraction for geologists and tourists alike. The “Great Unconformity” (nonconformity) is well-exposed in the canyon formed by Fountain Creek in the north-central part of the quadrangle, where the Cambrian Sawatch Sandstone lies directly upon the Precambrian crystalline basement rocks. Quaternary deposits are widespread and varied. Glacial deposits from at least two glacial episodes, and landslides, debris fans, pediment gravels, and stream alluvium of several ages are present in the quadrangle. The steep topography and large amount of vertical relief has resulted in rapid erosion of the bedrock. Steep-walled canyons such as Williams Canyon, North Cheyenne Canyon, and South Cheyenne Canyon are scenic testaments to the rapid erosion that is still occurring in the region. Landslides, rockfall, and debris flows are geologic hazards that are related to this rapid erosion in the area.