Geology of the Emigrant Creek Mining District occurs along the western edge of the Absaroka Range of the Beartooth uplift, a northwest-trending fault-bounded structural block of Precambrian basement rock that creates the Beartooth Plateau physiographic province in the Middle-Rocky Mountains of south-central Montana. This Precambrian basement block comprises the deeper basement rock of the Emigrant Mining District. The Yellowstone River and the deep alluvial fill of the fault bounded Paradise Valley form the western margin of the Absaroka Range, Beartooth Uplift and the Emigrant Mining District. During Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras a thick sequence of marine and marginal marine sedimentary rocks were deposited in a shallow inland seaway that covered much of the area. During late Tertiary time, the region was uplifted to approximately the present altitude by the Larimide Orogeny.
This mountain building event also resulted in the emplacement of early Tertiary intrusive stocks and the extrusion of voluminous volcanic rock sequences of the Absaroka-Gallatin volcanic field along reactivated structural zones of Precambrian crustal weakness. Five historic mining districts, including the Emigrant District, are geologically and genetically related to these intrusive centers. These districts have been mapped over distances of at least 120 kilometers (75 miles) from northwestern Wyoming to south-central Montana along the northwest-trending Cooke City Structural zone, the most prominent of these Precambrian basement faults zones.