Dr David J.W. Piper

Research Scientist

Marine geology research

Current research and/or projects


I grew up in southern England, intensely curious about my natural surroundings and with a love of the outdoors. I moved to Canada as an economic migrant, spending 9 years teaching at Dalhousie University and working on marine sedimentation in the coastal zone of Nova Scotia and Labrador, glaciomarine sedimentation around Antarctica, and Quaternary stratigraphy and deep-water sedimentation on the eastern Canadian margin. In 1981, I moved to the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, where I worked principally on Quaternary marine sedimentation and its application to geohazards, climate change, and resources.


Research and/or project statements

Current Research Projects:

  • Seafloor geohazards in deep-water frontier petroleum exploration areas, specifically in Flemish Pass, but more broadly on the eastern Canadian margin.
  • Environmental response of the Labrador current over the past glacial cycle.
  • Quaternary geological framework of the eastern Canadian margin.

Professional activities / interests

  • As an Adjunct Professor at Dalhousie University, I supervise honours and graduate students and visitors working on a  range of marine sedimentation problems, largely funded by NSERC.
  • I am a mentor of junior staff in marine geology research and publishing.
  • I give general scientific advice on Canadian marine lands, relevant to earthquakes, tsunamis, cable routes, foundation conditions, sites for paleoceanographic research, submarine landslides, turbidity currents and other erosional currents, benthic habitat, neotectonics, hydrocarbon seeps, and sedimentology and provenance of hydrocarbon reservoirs.
  • I edited the Quaternary chapter of the East Coast Offshore volume in the Geology of Canada series.
  • I have worked for many years on the geology of Greece and co-authored the first book to provide a chronological synthesis of the geology of Greece.
  • I was Editor of Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences (1992-1998) and co-Editor in Chief of Marine Geology (1998-2014).

Education and awards


  • B.A. Geology, Cambridge University (UK), 1966
  • Ph.D. Geology, Cambridge University (UK), 1969


  • Honorary doctorate in geology, University of Athens, Greece, 2012
  • Shepard Medal for sustained excellence in marine geology, 2010

Key publications

  1. Piper, D.J.W., Deptuck, M.E., Mosher, D.C., Hughes-Clarke, J.E., and Migeon, S., 2012. Erosional and depositional features of glacial meltwater discharges on the eastern Canadian continental margin. in Prather, B.E. et al., eds., Application of Seismic Geomorphology Principles to Continental Slope and Base-of-slope Systems: SEPM Special Publication 99, p. 61–80: Tulsa, Society of Sedimentary Research.
  2. Piper, D.J.W., Mosher, D.C. and Campbell, D.C., 2012. 9. Controls on the distribution of major types of submarine landslides. In: Clague, J.J. and Stead, D., Landslides: types, mechanisms, and modeling. Cambridge University Press, p. 95-107.
  3. Piper, D.J.W. and Normark. W.R., 2009. The processes that initiate turbidity currents and their influence on turbidites: a marine geology perspective. Journal of Sedimentary Research, v. 79, p. 347–362.
  4. Pe-Piper, G. and Piper,  D.J.W. 2002. The Igneous Rocks of Greece. Borntraeger, Stuttgart, 645 pp.
  5. Piper, D.J.W., Cochonat, P. and Morrison, M.L., 1999. Sidescan sonar evidence for progressive evolution of submarine failure into a turbidity current: the 1929 Grand Banks event. Sedimentology, v. 46, p. 79-97.
  6. Piper, D.J.W.  1972.  Sediments of the Middle Cambrian Burgess Shale, Canada. Lethaia,  v. 5, p. 169-175.

and many others

Research facility

1 Challenger Drive
Dartmouth, NS B2Y 4A2


Adjunct Professor:

  • Oceanography and Earth Sciences, Dalhousie University
  • Geology, Saint Mary’s University