Grove Karl Gilbert (1843-1918) is considered one of the greatest American geologists, having pioneered many theories in the earth sciences. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Gilbert advanced concepts of mountain building, fault scarps, earthquake probabilities, and lake cycles that have withstood the test of time and are still used today. Furthermore, Gilbert applied science toward promoting public welfare by advocating the need for evaluation of risks and public disclosure of geologic hazards.
Utah was one of Gilbert’s favorite study areas where he formulated many of his theories. He spent much time at this particular location and was the first to establish that Little Cottonwood Canyon and Bells Canyon glaciers descended as far as the shoreline of ancient Lake Bonneville. Gilbert was also the first person to recognize the earthquake hazard posed by the Wasatch fault.