Students exploring the water in the Great Salt Lake Website


Q. What is Spiral Jetty?
A. Spiral Jetty is an earthwork (aka land art) created by Robert Smithson in 1970. It’s 1,500 feet of coiled black basalt, which provides a stunning contrast to the pink microbe-rich waters. The Spiral Jetty not only leaves an imprint in your soul, it is also one of the only access points for GSLI students and faculty to collect samples of halophilic microorganisms in Great Salt Lake’s hypersaline Gunnison Bay (or north arm). Read more on the Dia Art Foundation webpage.
Q. Why was GSLI selected as one of the stewards?
A. Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster College is an active and frequent visitor to Spiral Jetty. We go there for scientific exploration. As a local member of the Great Salt Lake community we are in a position to act as stewards for Spiral Jetty by being there and monitoring the area for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands (FFSL), and Dia. We can notify Dia of land changes, road issues, or local happenings at the jetty.
Q. What will change now that the Spiral Jetty has new stewards?
A. Dia Art Foundation will now have two local organizations that can assist with stewardship: UMFA with its expertise in the arts and GSLI with expertise in the science and stewardship of the Great Salt Lake. The Spiral Jetty now has more local advocates who can help care for the earthwork.
Q. How does the GSLI’s research impact the Spiral Jetty?
A. GSLI is fortunate enough to have a study site that is also a world-renowned piece of art in the extreme hypersaline waters of Gunnison Bay in Great Salt Lake. The research of GSLI and Dr. Baxter do not impact the Spiral Jetty. Our research furthers our understanding of the extreme halophiles, which gives the waters around the jetty its intense hues.
Q. Who should I contact if I have questions about the GSLI becoming a steward of the Spiral Jetty?
A. Please contact GSLI at or 801-832-2308. 
Q. Who owns Spiral Jetty?
A. The estate of Robert Smithson owns the copyright of Spiral Jetty and controls the images created of Spiral Jetty. Dia Art Foundation owns Spiral Jetty and holds the land lease Spiral Jetty is located on.
Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands manages the bed of Great Salt Lake for all Utah citizens. Because Spiral Jetty sits below the meander line of the Great Salt Lake (and on the lake bed in high years) the land Spiral Jetty is on must be leased and managed by the State of Utah. A meander line is the line used to represent the perimeter of a body of water. Read more.
Q. Is spiral Jetty underwater?
A: Check out the website of Hikmet Sidney Loe for current happenings and the lake level status at the Spiral Jetty.
Q. What can I do to help?
We have agreed to monitor specific conditions on behalf of Dia Those include:
  • Condition and accessibility of the gravel road leading to Spiral Jetty
  • Presence of signage that directs tourists/interested parties to Spiral Jetty
  • Presence of any unauthorized activity within the lease area or adjoining property including campfires, trash, vandalism, or similar activities. 
If you have noticed any changes to the road, damage to signage, or any unauthorized activity, please contact us.