In a research career spanning some 30 years, Brad Pillans has authored more than 100 refereed publications in the broad fields of Quaternary stratigraphy, geochronology, paleoclimatology and landscape evolution, with a particular focus on paleomagnetic dating. From 1995 to 2008 he was a member of the CRC for Landscape, Environments & Mineral Exploration and leader of its Geochronology Project. In 2002 he was a key member of the geological investigation team that assessed the age of faulting at Lucas Heights nuclear reactor facility, where paleomagnetic dating demonstrated a minimum age of 5 Ma for the timing of last fault movement. A hallmark of his research is the innovative application of geological dating techniques, usually as part of multidisciplinary teams involving other dating specialists. In recognition of sustained excellence in New Zealand Quaternary research he was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of NZ in 2007.
Historical and instrumental records of seismic activity in Australasia are rather short (~200 years). One of his research interests is to better understand the magnitude and frequency of seismic hazards, particularly in relatively stable continental settings, using evidence from the geological record (paleoseismicity). Regolith geochronology is the key to establishing the history of paleoseismicity, for example, by dating offset features along major faults.