Orrin H. Pilkey

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Orrin Pilkey
OPilkey R037.jpg
Orrin H. Pilkey
Born (1934-09-14) September 14, 1934 (age 81)
Nationality American
Alma mater Florida State University
University of Montana
Washington State College
Occupation Professor at Duke University

Orrin H. Pilkey (born September 14, 1934) 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 (PSDS) 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, 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, Mississippi in Hurricane Camille (1969), 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.[1] 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.

Pilkey has received numerous awards, among them the Francis Shepard medal for excellence in marine geology in 1987, public service awards from several geological societies, and in 2003, he received the Priestly Award.

Pilkey has published more than 250 technical publications and a number of books. Further articles by Pilkey are in the Coastal Care web pages, a site that focuses on coastal and beach issues and education.

Selected bibliography[edit]


  • Pilkey, O.H., and J.A.G. Cooper, 2014, The Last Beach: Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 264 p.: ISBN 978-0-8223-5809-1
  • 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.: ISBN 978-0-8223-5109-2
  • Pilkey, O.H., and R. Young, 2009, The Rising Sea: Island Press, Washington, D.C., 203 p,;ISBN 978-1-59726-191-3
  • 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.;ISBN 978-0-231-13213-8
  • 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.;ISBN 978-0-8078-5510-2
  • 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.


  • Pilkey, O.H., Cooper, J.A.G., and Lewis, D.A., 2009, Global distribution and geomorphology of fetch-limited barrier islands, Journal of Coastal Research 25(4), pp. 819–837.
  • Stutz, M.L., and Pilkey, O.H., 2011, Open-ocean Barrier Islands: Global Influence of Climatic, Oceanographic, and Depositional Settings: Journal of Coastal Research, 27(2), 207–222.


  1. ^ Orrin H. Pilkey. fds.duke.edu

External links[edit]