Walter C. Pitman, III

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Walter Clarkson Pitman, III is a geophysicist and a professor emeritus at Columbia University.[1] His measurements of magnetic anomalies on the ocean floor supported the Morley–Vine–Matthews hypothesis explaining seafloor spreading. With William Ryan, he developed the Black Sea deluge theory. Among his major awards are the Alexander Agassiz Medal and the Vetlesen Prize.

Early life[edit]

Pitman was born in Newark, New Jersey, on 21 October 1931.[2] He received a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering in 1956 from Lehigh University and went to work for Hazeltine Corporation from 1956 to 1960. In 1960, he became a marine technician for Columbia University's Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory, applying his expertise as an electrical engineer in oceanographic research. The following year he became a graduate student in geophysics. Among his most important work was measurements of magnetic anomalies in the sea floor which supported the Morley–Vine–Matthews hypothesis explaining seafloor spreading.[3]


In 1984, Pitman was awarded the Society for Sedimentary Geology’s Francis Shepard Medal. In 1996, he was awarded the Maurice Ewing Medal by the American Geophysical Union.[3] In 1998, he received the Alexander Agassiz Medal of the United States National Academy of Sciences "for his fundamental contribution to the plate tectonic revolution through insightful analysis of marine magnetic anomalies and for his studies of the causes and effects of sea-level changes". In 2000, he was awarded the Vetlesen Prize for plate tectonic theory, theoretical geomorphology and tectonics.[4]

Black Sea deluge theory[edit]

With a Columbia colleague, Bill Ryan, Pitman published evidence in 1997 that a massive flooding event greatly expanded the Black Sea very quickly around 5600 BC. This was published as Noah's Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries about the Event that Changed History in 1998, in which the authors argued that the deluge could be linked to mythical flood events such as Noah's Flood.[5]



  1. ^ Columbia University. Walter C Pitman III Verified 9 December 2010.
  2. ^ "Biography? Walter C. Pitman III". The Betlesen Prize. 2004. Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Pitman Receives Ewing Medal". American Geophysical Union. 22 September 2005. Archived from the original on 19 January 2007. Retrieved 23 January 2007. 
  4. ^ "Recipients". The Vetlesen Prize. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Retrieved September 2011.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  5. ^ Jacqueline S. Mitchell (7 June 2002). "The Truth Behind Noah's Flood". Scientific American Frontiers. PBS. Retrieved 2 June 2012. 

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