Gilbert, Grove Karl

Gilbert, Grove Karl,

1843–1918, American geologist, b. Rochester, N.Y., grad. Univ. of Rochester, 1862. When the U.S. Geological Survey was created in the Dept. of the Interior in 1879 (to replace four surveys in the Dept. of the Interior and the Dept. of War), Gilbert was appointed senior geologist. His Report on the Geology of the Henry Mountains (U.S. Geographical and Geological Survey of the Rocky Mountain Region, 1877, 2d ed. 1880) contains the first description of a laccolithic mountain group, a form of mountain structure that he was the first to recognize and explain. The report introduced concepts of erosion, river development, and glaciation that are incorporated in modern theories of physical geology. One of the publications of the Geological Survey is Gilbert's Lake Bonneville (1890), a study of the ancient lake of which Great Salt Lake is the remnant. He mapped the ancient shores and outlets of the Great Lakes and was the first to recognize that the successive levels of the lakes were caused by the barrier of the receding glacier, which cut off the natural drainage of the region. He also published notable studies on Niagara Falls and the Niagara River, the glaciation and morphology of the Sierra Nevada, and hydraulic mining debris in the Sierra Nevada. In 1899 he accompanied the Harriman Alaskan expedition and wrote the volume Glaciers and Glaciation in its reports.


See biography by W. M. Davis in the Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. XXI (1926).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Gilbert, Grove Karl


Born May 6, 1843, in Rochester; died May 1, 1918, in Jackson, Michigan. American geologist and geomorphologist.

Gilbert graduated from the University of Rochester in 1862, becoming a member of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington in 1883. In 1893 and 1909 he was president of the American Geological Society.

Gilbert established the block structure of the Cordilleras. He was the first to identify the special form of intrusion to which he gave the name “laccolith.” He investigated the processes of river erosion and of the transport of detrital material by rivers, as well as the creation of landforms in relation to the structure of the earth’s crust, its movements, and the destructive action of water and wind. In his investigations of the mountains near Lake Bonneville, Gilbert identified two types of tectonic movement, which he called “orogenic” (breaks in the earth’s crust, or folding) and “epeirogenic” (slow vertical movements of large portions of the earth’s crust).


Report on the Geology of the Henry Mountains, 2nd ed. Washington, 1880.
Lake Bonneville. Washington, 1890.
An Introduction to Physical Geography, 2nd ed. New York, 1908. (With A. P. Brigham.)
Glaciers and Glaciation. Washington, 1910.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Mentioned in ?