Optically stimulated luminescence dating of fluvial deposits
Bretz was back in the Scablands in 1923 for three months of exploration and it seems to have been during this field trip that his later views – namely that “some spectacular hydrological event . In the November-December 1923 issue of the Journal of Geology Bretz published a paper summarizing his findings.
To understand the somewhat defensive tone of the paper it is necessary to keep in mind the prevailing geological doctrine of the time, the principle known as “uniformitarianism”.
Here is Bretz, writing in 1928 after one of his field trips across Washington State in the Pacific Northwest of the US: “No one with an eye for landforms can cross eastern Washington in daylight without encountering and being impressed by the ‘”scabland’.” Like great scars marring the otherwise fair face of the plateau are these elongated tracts of bare, or nearly bare, black rock carved into mazes of buttes and canyons. It interrupts the wheat lands, parcelling them out into hill tracts less than 40 acres to more than 40 square miles in extent.
This impression was strengthened when he explored Grand Coulee and Moses Coulee – gigantic channels gouged deeply in the earth – and visited the Quincy Basin at the southern end of Grand Coulee where he found the whole 600-square-mile depression filled up to a depth of 400 feet with small particles of basalt debris.‘Mountains had not been built overnight, but had risen slowly, imperceptibly over time.