Profiles of Rocky Mountain Geologists – a continuing series

Antecedent and consequent relations are therefore not merely linear, but constitute a plexus and this plexus pervades nature.

—G. K. Gilbert, 1886 (p. 286)


American geology flowered in the late 19th century, and G. K. Gilbert (1843–1918; Fig. 1) was its preeminent geologist (Gilluly, 1963). In Europe, one thinks of comparable but somewhat earlier eminences—William Smith (1769–1839), Charles Lyell (1797–1875), and Jean Louis Agassiz (1807–1873)—but Gilbert was their equal, if not more accomplished. He was one of the most important scientists the U.S. has ever produced: “Generations...

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