Orrin H. Pilkey

Professor, Author

1934 –


Who is Orrin H. Pilkey?

Orrin H. Pilkey is Professor Emeritus of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment, at Duke University, and Founder and Director Emeritus of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines which is currently based at Western Carolina University.

Pilkey received his B.S. degree in geology at Washington State College, his M.S. degree in geology at the University of Montana and his Ph.D. degree in geology at Florida State University. Between 1962 and 1965 he was a research professor at the University of Georgia Marine Institute on Sapelo Island. He has been at Duke University since 1965, with one year breaks with the Department of Marine Science at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayag├╝ez, and with the U.S. Geological Survey in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

Pilkey began his career with the study of abyssal plains on the deep sea floor. As a result of the destruction of his parents' house in Waveland, Mississippi in Hurricane Camille, he switched to the study of coasts. Pilkey's research centers on both basic and applied coastal geology, focusing primarily on barrier island coasts. The PSDS has analyzed the numerical models used by coastal geologists and engineers to predict the movement of beach sand, especially in beach replenishment. In general, Pilkey argues that mathematical models cannot be used to accurately predict the behavior of beaches, although they can be very useful if directional or orders-of-magnitude answers are sought. In the book, Useless Arithmetic, written with his daughter Linda Pilkey-Jarvis, they argue that the outcome of natural processes in general cannot be accurately predicted by mathematical models. The Rising Sea, written with Rob Young, focuses on the global threat from sea level rise.

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Sep 14, 1934
Also known as
  • Orrin Pilkey
  • United States of America
  • Florida State University
  • Washington State University
  • University of Montana - Missoula
  • Duke University

on July 23, 2013


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