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Grove Karl Gilbert

A Great Engine of Research

Stephen J. Pyne

Publication Year: 2007

As Stephen Pyne reveals in his biography, few other scientists can match Grove Karl Gilbert’s range of talents. A premier explorer of the American West who made major contributions to the cascade of new discoveries about the earth, Gilbert described two novel forms of mountain building, invented the concept of the graded stream, inaugurated modern theories of lunar origin, helped found the science of geomorphology, and added to the canon of conservation literature.
    Gilbert knew most of geology's grand figures--including John Wesley Powell, Clarence Dutton,  and Clarence King--and Pyne's chronicle of the imperturbable, quietly unconventional Gilbert is couterpointed with sketches of these prominent scientists. The man who wrote that "happiness is sitting under a tent with walls uplifted, just after a brief shower,", created answers to the larger questions of the earth in ways that have become classics of his science.

Published by: University of Iowa Press

Title Page

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Author’s Note to the Paperback Edition

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pp. vii-x

It was a good bet that an additional 30 years would leave Grove Karl Gilbert still in fashion. It was a less sure thing that my biography of him might yet find an audience. That it has, I owe to Holly Carver, who has edited both productions; to the continued enthusiasms for ...

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

Edwin McKee tells the story of the U.S. Geological Survey's Colorado River Expedition during which, over an evening campfire, the participants debated the question of who was America's greatest geologist. They selected Grove Karl Gilbert. The setting as much as the choice is appropriate. G. K. Gilbert ...

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1. In a Nutshell

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pp. 3-21

Grove Karl Gilbert was born May 6, I843-ten years after Charles Lyell published the final volume of his Principles of Geology; he died May I, I9I8-ten years before the proceedings of the first international symposium on continental drift were published. ...

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2. "Astride the occidental mule"

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pp. 22-63

Gilbert's request was more than a bid for a job. So far his education in geology except for occasional episodes exhuming bones and examining potholes, had been confined to reading textbooks, cataloging mineral specimens, and labeling assorted fossils. Neither the ...

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3. The Major Years

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pp. 64-107

When he joined the Powell Survey in 1875, Gilbert found it undergoing a metamorphosis similar to that which the Wheeler Survey experienced about the same time. The survey had begun in 1869 with a spectacle-Powell's two traverses down the Colorado River ...

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4. A Great Engine of Research

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pp. 108-166

Its first director, Clarence King, fielded the U.S. Geological Survey with the same vigor that, at age twenty-five, he had applied to the Exploration of the 40th Parallel. Graduate of Yale's Sheffield Scientific School, celebrated mountaineer and author, explorer, geologist, and gifted ...

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5. Grade

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pp. 167-202

"The errand is a peculiar one," Gilbert had written a friend in 1891, as he set out "to hunt a star." But at Coon Butte in Arizona he had failed to discover one. After the moonlet theory and some speculations on method which followed from the investigation of the Coon Butte crater, Gilbert found no star ...

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6. The Inculcation of Grove Karl Gilbert

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pp. 203-267

By 1903, Gilbert had begun reconsolidating his personal life and his scientific career. He elaborated a new networl< of social ties to compensate for those he had lost and redirected his scientific curiosity to a new landscape. But, just as his new social environment ...

Notes

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pp. 269-290

Sources

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pp. 291-294

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Biographical Memoirs

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pp. 295-

Andrews, E. C. "Grove Karl Gilbert." Sierra Club Bulletin II (1920-23):Barrell, Joseph. "Grove Karl Gilbert, An Appreciation." Sierra Club BulletinChamberlin, T. C. "Grove Karl Gilbert." Journal of Geology 26, no. 4Davis, William Morris. Biographical Memoir of Grove Karl Gilbert, 1843 1918. National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoirs 21, no. 2....

Index

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pp. 295-306


E-ISBN-13: 9781587297540
E-ISBN-10: 158729754X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781587296185
Print-ISBN-10: 1587296187

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2007

Series Title: American Land & Life

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Gilbert, Grove Karl, 1843-1918.
  • Geologists -- United States -- Biography.
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