Dickinson, William R (Bill)

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Dickinson, William R (Bill)

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  • Dickinson, Dr Bill

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1931 - 2015


Born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1931, William (‘Bill’) Dickinson was an internationally renowned and decorated geoscientist from the University of Arizona and a prolific author. Prior to joining the University of Arizona, he was a professor at Stanford University where he had received a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering (1952), a master’s degree (1956) and a doctorate in geology (1958). He made significant contributions to both geoscience and archaeology of the South Pacific and worked collaboratively with archaeologists in tracing the migration path of people from island to island through the pottery they carried with them. The pots were made with clay combined with sand from where the pots were made. His research on the fragments of historic and prehistoric pottery, plate tectonics, sea-level changes and island geomorphologies contributed significantly to understanding the process of human migration in the Pacific. In a symposium honouring Bill Dickinson's five decades of interdisciplinary collaboration with Pacific archaeologists, it was said that "No other geologist has contributed more to Pacific Islands archaeology than William ‘Bill’ Dickinson" (An archaeologists geologist: A symposium in Honour of William R Dickinson, part of the Society for American Archaeology 2015 Conference).

William Dickinson’s contributions to geology were well recognised by the profession in terms of honours and awards; he received the Penrose medal and the L L Sloss Award from the Geological Society of America and the Twenhofel Medal from the Society of Economics Palaeontologists and Mineralogists. He was also a Guggenheim Fellow and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences. He died on 21 July 2015 while on a field expedition to Nuku’alofa, Tonga.


Vanuatu ; New Caledonia ; Samoa ; Fiji

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Created by Christine Bryan on 7 October 2016




University of Arizona biography: William R. Dickinson, Major Figure in plate tectonics and Pacific archaeology, Dies.

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