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The Geological Society of America was conceived in 1881 and bom in 1888 as part of an era of unprecedented mineral-based prosperity that has continued, with wartime and business cycle fluctuations, to the present. From its earliest days, geology and its practical applications, particularly industrial, have been intimately connected. This paper examines the mutual relationship of practical need and geology during the first halfcentury of the GSA, focusing particularly on how practical needs stimulated theoretical developments. Three specific examples of this relationship are given: G. K. Gilbert’s studies of hydraulic mining-induced aggradation of streams in California; the influence of iron and other mining in the Lake Superior region on the early development of Precambrian stratigraphy; and geology’s rediscovery of the concept of facies as a consequence of exploration for coal in Utah and the search for petroleum in the Permian of West Texas.

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