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Top 10 Washington Geologists

Influential geoscientists who have made numerous, substantial contributions to our understanding of Washington State's geology. Admittedly, this list favors living geologists, mapping, and quantitative work. The list is a summary of responses from several dozen geologists from western states to the question "Who would you put on a Top 10 list of Washington geologists?".

Bretz was the #1 response by a wide margin, so I went with a Top 11. But Atwater drives an unusually cool truck ('78 Powerwagon), a heavy source of bias for younger voters, so I added a 12th. The list that follows Bretz (and Brian) is not ordered. Congratulations to all!

Your outrage is always welcome:

J Harlen Bretz (1882-1981), University of Chicago/University of Washington

Bretz is the grandfather of the Channeled scabland. His pioneering work in Eastern Washington provides the foundation for our understanding of the Missoula floods today. His career is one of the great redemption stories in science.

Brian Atwater, U.S. Geological Survey/University of Washington

Paleoseismic record of the Cascadia Subduction Zone and Missoula flood record in the Sanpoil Valley.

Peter R. Hooper (1931-2012), Washington State University

Stratigraphy, petrology, correlation, and evolution of the Columbia River Flood Basalt Province with collaborators Steve Reidel and Don Swanson.

Ralph Haugerud, U.S. Geological Survey

Structural geology and mapping of the North Cascades and pioneer in the application of LiDAR to fault mapping.

Vic Baker, University of Arizona

Quantitative paleohydrology and geomorphic record of the Missoula floods.

Richard Waitt, U.S. Geological Survey

Detailed stratigraphic work in Missoula flood deposits over 4 decades.

Dave Montgomery, University of Washington

Pioneer in tectonic geomorphology, quantitative analysis of mountain landscapes, rock star guitarist, and author of several best selling books.

Joe Dragovich, Washington Department of Geology & Earth Resources

Journeyman mapping geologist for Washington's Division of Geology & Earth Resources and author of dozens of geologic quadrangles.

Rowland Tabor, U.S. Geological Survey Extensive mapping in the North Cascades and Olympic Mountains.

Eric S. Cheney, University of Washington (Emeritus)

Economic & regional geology. Noted for inspiring many to pursue careers in geology.

Steven C. Porter, University of Washington

Fundamental paleoclimate work on North America and most of the other continents.

Parke D. Snavely (1919-2003), U.S. Geological Survey

Pioneer in marine and onshore-offshore synthesis in addition to starting the USGS Marine Geology branch.


Robert C. (Bob) Carson, Whitman College

An institution - inspiring teacher, field geomorphologist, and authority on the Yellowstone backcountry. Discovered first active fault in the state. Author of numerous field guides, articles, maps, and books on variety of local problems.

Darrel S. Cowan, University of Washington

Structural geology and melanges of the northwest Cordillera.

Tim J. Walsh, Washington Department of Geology & Earth Resources

Hazards geologist and founder of the state's tsunami mitigation program.

Don J. Easterbrook, Western Washington University (Emeritus) Glacial geology and Pleistocene climate research.

E.H. (Ned) Brown, Western Washington University (Emeritus)

Tectonics of NW Washington.

Thomas Dunne, University of Santa Barbara

Hydrology, coupled hillslope-fluvial processes, hazards, and a department-building legacy at UW before UCSB.

Lisa L. Ely, Central Washington University

Fluvial geomorphology and paleoclimatology.

J. Hoover Mackin (1905-1968), University of Washington/UT Austin Wide ranging contributions to geomorphology.

Weldon Rau, U.S. Geological Survey/Washington Department of Natural Resources

Olympic Peninsula geology, stratigraphy, and paleoecology.

Eric Schuster, Washington Department of Geology & Earth Resources

Compiler for 1:100,000-scale geologic map series for Washington in 1990's.

Stephen P. Reidel, Washington State University-TriCities

Columbia River Basalts, supra-basalt seds, Hanford geology, and unconventional gas plays in CRB interbeds.

Brian Sherrod U.S. Geological Survey/University of Washington

Paleoseismology and neotectonics.


J.M. Armentrout

Julian Barksdale

M.E. Beck

Robert D. Bentley

Bruce Bjornstad

Richard Blakeley

Derek Booth

Mark T. Brandon

Alan Busacca

Chuck Campbell

John Clague

Thomas Condon

Howard A Coombs

Darrel Cowan

Dwight Crandell

Harold Culver

R.A. Daly

Dave Engebretson

Karl Fecht

Franklin "Nick" Foit

Roald Fryxell

Marshall T. Huntting

Sam Y. Johnson

Eugene Kiver

Estella Leopold

Ralph L. Lupher

Frank McCann

Bates McKee

Fred K. Miller

Robert B. Miller

Peter Misch

Dee Molenaar

Jim Monger

Jim O'Connor

J.T. Pardee

Erwin Raisz

Kevin Scott

T.W. Sisson

Mortimer Staatz

Dale Stradling

Don Swanson

Kathy Troost

Tim Walsh

A.C. Waters

Charles Weaver

Ray Wells

Bailey Willis

John Whetten

Joe Vance


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