May 2024 Hybrid Meeting

Monday, May 13, 2024
6:00 - 7:30 pm

Note: ETGS members participating virtually will receive an email with info for attending/logging into the meeting.


May 2024 Presentation

The Channeled Scablands of the Northwestern US - Geologic Puzzle or Formation by Unique Processes.



Dr. Robert D. Hatcher, Jr.
Distinguished Scientist and Professor Emeritus
Earth and Planetary Sciences



The Channeled Scablands in western Montana, northern Idaho, eastern and central Washington, and central Oregon consist of areas of a sq km or larger that have been scoured to Columbia River basalt bedrock separated by areas of several sq km of thick rich soil (Palouse), boulders up to the size of small houses that resemble glacial erratics (in a non-glaciated region), dry waterfalls, and extensive aerial (loess), fluvial, and lake deposits. They occur along the Columbia River Valley and shaped the course of the Pleistocene river. Geologists of the early 20th Century had concluded that they formed by slow uniformitarian processes, but in the 1920s J. Harlen Bretz (Univ. Chicago) suggested that they formed from large floods from failure of ice dams along the Clark Fork River in western Montana. These floods ice-dam lakes drained glacial Lake Missoula, whose existence had been documented a few years before by geologist Joseph T. Pardee (USGS). Pardee's data were seminal in supporting Bret's hypothesis. The geological community, however, refused to accept Bretz's ideas for decades - considering them an outrageous hypothesis - until the 1970s when the idea became accepted because of the huge amount of confirming data that Pardee, Bretz,
and other geologists and NASA photos revealed. Bretz was finally awarded the GSA Penrose Medal in 1979 for his work, two years before he died.



Education: Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee B. A. 1961 (majors: geology, chemistry; minor math), M. S. 1962 (geology), University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee Ph. D. 1965 (structural geology; two foreign languages required)

Professional Employment: Geologist, Humble Oil and Refining Company (1965-66), Clemson University (1966-78, Assistant Professor to Full Professor), Florida State University (1978-80, Full Professor), University of South Carolina (1980-86, Full Professor), and University of Tennessee-Knoxville and Oak Ridge National Laboratory Distinguished Scientist (1986-2000), UT Distinguished Scientist and Professor (2000-2018). University of Tennessee Distinguished Scientist and Professor Emeritus 2018- Present.

Research Interests: Primary research goal is to gain a better understanding of the evolution of continental crust, mostly through the study of mountain chains and mature crust. Most of my research has been concentrated in the southern and central Appalachians, but large amounts of time have been spent visiting and studying other mountain chains, and Precambrian continental crust. My primary interest is in the mechanics and kinematics of large faults, which form a natural transition into a related long-term interest in the geologic controls of petroleum occurrence in the Appalachians, radioactive waste management, the causes of intraplate seismicity and geologic evidence for determination of recurrence intervals for intraplate earthquakes. While I am a structural geologist, most of my research is interdisciplinary, integrating stratigraphic, geochronologic, geochemical, and geophysical data into structural studies. I am primarily a field geologist, however, and field data form the basis for all other supporting studies. I have been involved for many years with geophysicists and geologists in other academic institutions and the USGS in the geologic interpretation of seismic reflection and potential field (aeromagnetic and gravity) data.

Research Support: Received over $5M in grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of the Interior, state geological surveys, and private industry.

Professional Service (Abbreviated): Editor (with W. A. Thomas) Geological Society of America Bulletin (1982-88); President, Geological Society of America (1993); President, American Geological Institute (1996); Trustee, GSA Foundation (1999-2007), Chair of the GSA Foundation Board (2005-07); National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council Board on Radioactive Waste Management (1990-96); Federal Advisory Committee on Nuclear Reactor Safety Research (Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 1993-96); Federal Advisory Committee for the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (Department of the Interior, 1996-2006); Federal Advisory Committee Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (2009-2015; have also served on numerous committees of GSA, AAPG, AGU, and other organizations. Fellow: AAAS, Geological Society of America, Geological Association of Canada.

Medals and Awards: Geological Society of America Distinguished Service Award (1988, the first ever awarded), AAPG I. C. White Award (1997), honorary citizen of West Virginia (by the Governor, 1998), John T. Galey Award by the Eastern Section of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (2001), American Geological Institute Ian Campbell Medal (2006), Geological Society of America Penrose Medal (2006), and American Geological Institute Marcus Milling Legendary Geoscientist Medal (2014). The latter three medals constitute the highest levels of career recognition/achievement possible in my profession.

Publications: Author or co-author of >200 scientific publications, including 10 books.

Graduate Students: 53 M. S. theses and 18 Ph. D. dissertations completed since began working in graduate departments in 1978.

Greetings, and welcome to the May 13, 2024 ETGS hybrid meeting.

If you attend via Zoom as a courtesy please mute your cell phone or the microphone in your laptop/tablet to minimize background noise and feedback echoes. We will also make an effort to mute all participants - at least until the presentation is finished. Please use the chat feature to type any comments or questions you may have. We recommend that you send questions for the speaker to "everyone" so all participants can see the question. In the interest of time, we may hold the Q&A at the end of the presentation.

We will create an in-person and virtual attendance list. It is not always possible to tell who is participating on-line, especially for those joining by phone, so please email
etgs@live.com to be listed on the attendance sheet. Let us know exactly how your name should appear on the list. We will add a note explaining the lack of signatures due to remote participation and have an ETGS officer sign as usual.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we try this online format. As always, we welcome and appreciate your feedback and suggestions for improvement.


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