George E. Neff was the first Honorary Member named by the Ice Age Floods Institute (2001). The certificate was presented to George at his home in Ephrata, WA, by Jim Pritchard. In the citation, George is recognized for his many years of researching and presenting the Ice Age Floods geology of the Columbia Basin, and more specifically, for the several papers he has written and coauthored, and the field trips he has conducted, concerning Ice Age Floods geology.
In his career with the Bureau of Reclamation, George was involved in the planning of the canal system of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project, from an engineering geology standpoint. This involved research from Grand Coulee Dam to Pasco. The Bureau of Reclamation needed to understand the total picture of the Floods events in order to plan properly.
Particularly significant is his contribution to the 1956 paper titled “Channeled Scabland of Washington: New Data and Interpretations,” by J Harlen Bretz, H.T.U. Smith, and George E. Neff. This paper was a result of the 1952 field trip Bretz and Smith made to the area. Bretz wanted coauthors to challenge his ideas and to help strengthen the case that he had been presenting to the skeptical geological community for some thirty years, regarding the origin of the Scabland. Bretz and Smith contacted Neff at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation office in Ephrata to ask for his help, and to have him show them places they had not been, including some of Neff’s discoveries. One of the most important discoveries was local evidence of multiple Ice Age flooding events.
George also assisted one of our members, Dr. Victor Baker, now at the University of Arizona, when Vic was doing research for his Ph.D. dissertation. And Baker, in writing about Bretz’s career, has indicated how important George’s contributions were in establishing the case for cataclysmic flooding.
George’s latest contribution to our knowledge is the 1996 publication, Geologic Road Trips in Grant County, Washington, which was coauthored with Mark Amara and published by the Adam East (now Moses Lake) Museum and Art Center. The book was the basis for the guidebook for the memorable 1999 Institute and NPS field trip from Moses Lake, led by Richard Waitt (USGS) and Brent Cunderla (BLM).