Welcome to Orrin Pilkey’s Research site….

Brief Bio:

Orrin is James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Geology, Division of Earth and Ocean Sciences, in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, and Founder and Director Emeritus of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines (PSDS – http://www.psds-wcu.org/) which is currently based at Western Carolina University.

He 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, Mayagüez, 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, MS, in Hurricane Camille (1969), he switched to the study of coasts, a field in which he is well known internationally.  His research centers on both basic and applied coastal geology, focusing primarily on barrier island coasts.  His first task involved co-editing and co-writing a 22 volume Living with the Shore series of books, intended to inform the public about the hazards of beachfront living.  In 1996, Pilkey, with co-author and graduate student, Kathy Dixon, published The Corps and the Shore, a critical view of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ projects on American coasts.  In the book Useless Arithmetic (2007), written with his daughter, Linda Pilkey-Jarvis, they argue that the outcome of natural beach and barrier island processes cannot be accurately predicted (for engineering purposes) by mathematical models.  The Rising Sea, written with Rob Young in 2009, focuses on the global threat from sea level rise.  The World’s Beaches, published in 2011, is a beautiful and informative “Global Guide to the Science of the Shoreline” that looks at the role of beaches in history, beach classifications, threats that beaches face today, and the future of beaches in a rising sea. Beautiful batik art by Mary Edna Fraser embellishes Global Climate Change: A Primer. This popular 2011 volume was written with his son, Keith, and provides an excellent discussion of the subject, along with debunking climate change myths.  In 2012, he published his latest book (co-edited), Pitfalls of Shoreline Stabilization, which offers a global view of the pluses and minuses of holding shorelines in place during a time of rising sea level.

Pilkey has received numerous awards, among them the Francis Shepard medal for excellence in marine geology (1987), public service awards from various organizations, and the Priestly Award (2003).  Most recently (2012), Duke University honored him with the naming of a building at the Duke Marine Lab in Beaufort, NC:  The Orrin Pilkey Marine Sciences and Conservation Genetics Center, which is under construction.  You can follow the progress of its construction on a Marine Lab webcam at http://www.nicholas.duke.edu/marinelab/facilities/webcam-pilkeycenter.

Orrin has published more than 250 technical publications and has co-authored or c0-edited numerous books.  Further articles by Pilkey can be found in the Coastal Care web pages, a site that focuses on coastal and beach issues and education.  http://coastalcare.org/   He has written a number of op-eds on the subject of response to coastal erosion and sea level rise and is a popular speaker at meetings and events.

Pilkey, O.H., et al.  Rethinking Living Shorelines.  http://www.wcu.edu/WebFiles/PDFs/PSDS_Living_Shorelines_White_Paper.pdf

Thieler, E.R., et al., 2000. The Use of Mathematical Models to Predict Beach Behavior for U.S. Coastal Engineering: A Critical Review. JCR 16(1):48-70.

Pilkey, O.H., 2000. What You Know Can Hurt You: Predicting the Behavior of Nourished Beaches.

Selected Books include:

Cooper, J.A.G. and Pilkey, O.H. (Eds.), 2012, Pitfalls of Shoreline Stabilization: Selected Case Studies: Springer, London, 333 p.

Pilkey, O.H., W.J. Neal, J.T. Kelley, J.A.G. Cooper, 2011, The World’s Beaches: A Global Guide to the Science of the Shoreline: University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 283 p.

Pilkey, O.H., and K.C. Pilkey, 2011, Global Climate Change: A Primer: Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 142 p.

Pilkey, O.H., and R. Young, 2009, The Rising Sea: Island Press, Washington, D.C., 203 p.

Kelley, J.T., O.H. Pilkey, JA.G. Cooper (Eds.), 2009, America’s Most Vulnerable Coastal Communities: Special Paper 460: The Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, 179 p.

Neal, W.J., O.H. Pilkey, and J.T. Kelley, 2007, Atlantic Coast Beaches: A Guide to Ripples, Dunes, and Other Natural Features of the Seashore: Mountain Press Publishing Company, Missoula, MT, 272 p.

Pilkey, O.H., and L. Pilkey-Jarvis, 2007, Useless Arithmetic: Why Environmental Scientists Can’t Predict the Future: Columbia University Press, New York, New York, 230 p.

Pilkey, O.H., T.M. Rice, and W.J. Neal, 2004, How to Read a North Carolina Beach: University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 162 p.

Bush, D.M., W.J. Neal, N.J. Longo, K.C. Lindeman, D.F. Pilkey, L.S. Esteves, J.D. Congleton, O.H. Pilkey, 2004, Living with Florida’s Atlantic Beaches, Coastal Hazards from Amelia Island to Key West: Duke University Press, Durham, North Carolina, 338 p.

Pilkey, O.H. and M.E. Fraser, 2003, A Celebration of the World’s Barrier Islands: Columbia University Press, New York, New York, 309 p.

Bush, D.M., N.J. Longo, W.J. Neal, L.S. Esteves, O.H. Pilkey, et al., 2001, Living on the Edge of the Gulf: The West Florida and Alabama Coast: Duke University Press, Durham, North Carolina, 340 p.

Pilkey, O.H., W.J. Neal, S.R. Riggs, C.A. Webb, D.M. Bush, J. Bullock, and B. Cowan, 1998, The North Carolina Shore and Its Barrier Islands: Duke University Press, Durham, North Carolina, 318 p.

Mason, O., O.H. Pilkey, and W.J. Neal, 1996, Living with the Alaska Coast: Duke University Press, Durham, North Carolina, 348 p.

Bush, D.M., O.H. Pilkey, and W.J. Neal, 1996, Living by the Rules of the Sea, Duke University Press, Durham, North Carolina, 179 p.

Pilkey, O.H., and K.L. Dixon, 1996, The Corps and the Shore: Island Press, Washington, D.C., 272 p.

Kaufman, W., and O.H. Pilkey, 1979, The Beaches Are Moving: The Drowning of America’s Shoreline, Duke University Press, Durham, North Carolina, 336 p.


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