Meet The Geologist

Tracy Vallier retired in 1997 from the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California, where he worked as a marine geologist for 22 years. Before that he worked as a marine geologist for the Deep Sea Drilling Project at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, and as a professor at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana. Since retiring, Tracy taught geology at Lewis-Clark State College, Whitman College, and the University of Oregon, and worked as a marine geologist at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories in Moss Landing, California.

He's authored five books: “Islands and Rapids: A Geologic Story of Hells Canyon” (1998, Confluence Press, Lewiston, Idaho), “Conversations with an Idaho Bartender” (2008, Seven Devils Books, South Lake Tahoe, California), “Shadows in the Loess Hills” (2009, Seven Devils Books, South Lake Tahoe), “The White Wolf and Seven Spirits: A Boy’s Vision Quest” (2009, Seven Devils Books, South Lake Tahoe), and “A Crow In The Seven Devils Mountains” (2011, Seven Devils Books, South Lake Tahoe). These books are available on the Seven Devils Books website. He co-compiled and co-edited nine other books on geology and oceanography. His scientific bibliography as author and co-author includes more than 250 entries.

Tracy grew up on farms in western Iowa near Council Bluffs and, immediately after graduating from high school, joined the U.S. Navy where he served four years as an air traffic controller. After discharge from the Navy in 1958, he studied at Iowa State University (B.S. in geology, 1962) and Oregon State University (Ph.D. in geology and oceanography, 1967).

Tracy's work continues in Hells Canyon where he has worked off and on for over fifty years. Currently, he is finishing geologic maps of several 7.5-Minute quadrangles, each of which covers about fifty square miles. He also is mapping the Permian-Triassic unconformity in more detail and interacts with science colleagues, students, and members of the general public who are interested in the area. His book, “Islands and Rapids: A Geologic Story of Hells Canyon” is a synthesis of regional geology and also a geologic guide for nearly 100 miles of Hells Canyon. Reconnaissance-level geologic maps in the book are printed in black and white at a scale of 1:62,000, or one inch equals one mile.

Feel free to contact Tracy if you either want to order the books discussed above or have questions about Hells Canyon and the Blue Mountains region of Oregon and Idaho. Mail a letter to his home at P.O. Box 14097, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96151. E-mail Tracy here.

Fun Facts


September, 2012: Tracy was recognized in the Congessional Record of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington D.C. by the Honorable Tom McClintock, Member of Congress, Fourth District, California. Before the Speaker of the House and the members of Congress, the Congressman rose in recognition of Tracy's 50 years exploring, documenting and teaching the geography and geology of Hells Canyon. Click this link for more information.

Addtionally, a Letter of Petition has been presented to the U.S Forest Service and the State of Idaho, requesting recognition of Tracy's unselfish knowledge and enthusiasm for teaching others about Hells Canyon. This Letter of Petition supports an initiative to name the campground at Pittsburg Landing the Tracy L. Vallier Campground. Click this link for more information.

Tracy and his wife Sheila are permanent residents of South Lake Tahoe, California.