Research Group – Katharina Pfaff

Dr. Katharina Pfaff

Research Associate Professor
Department of Geology and Geological Engineering

Katharina is a mineralogist by training and obtained her MS degree in 2007 (Igneous Petrology), her PhD in 2010 (Economic Geology) and joined Mines in 2012. Katharina established and runs the MMC Facility. Katharina’s research combines mineralogy, geochemistry, thermodynamic modeling, and artificial intelligence and applies it to improve our understanding of igneous, metamorphic, and ore forming processes.


Faculty Page | MMC Facility

Current Group Members

Danny Schmidt

Ph.D. Student

Danny Schmidt is working on a Ph.D. project developing a workflow to better understand the subsurface and advance critical mineral exploration and assessment. Co-registered magnetic susceptibility, geochemistry and hyperspectral data on core are used to inform geophysical data analysis and to advance our understanding of our domestic critical mineral endowment. His research is funded by the Center to Advance the Science of Exploration to Reclamation in Mining.

Isaac Simon

Ph.D. Student

Isaac is a Ph.D. student at Mines, working alongside professors at the Universidad Nacional de San Agustin in Arequipa, Peru. His research involves studying the hydrogeochemical signatures of ore deposits and anthropogenic activity in major watersheds supplying freshwater to Arequipa. His professional experience includes working as a Mining Geo and in a Greenfields exploration project. His work is supported through the Center for Mining Sustainability.

Matthew Riley

M.S. Student

Matthew is a graduate student working on estimating the carbonation potential of the Caribou-Cross mining area using cutting-edge X-ray fluorescence core scanning technology and normative mineralogy in conjunction with kinetic and thermodynamic considerations. His research is funded by the Center to Advance the Science of Exploration to Reclamation in Mining.

Filip Kasprowicz

M.S. Student

Filip is a second-year M.S. student and lab assistant in the MMC Facility. His research focuses on sulfide recrystallization textures and critical mineral occurrence in a polymetallic VMS deposit in Quebec.

Filip’s Ph.D. research will focus on understanding the occurrence and sequestration of critical minerals contained within a wide variety of mineral deposits and deposit types (VMS, SEDEX, etc.), and the application of cutting-edge microanalytical techniques to these questions and others in economic geology and mineralogy. His research is funded by the Center to Advance the Science of Exploration to Reclamation in Mining. Outside the lab he enjoys skiing, hiking, and photography.

Lindsey Patterson

M.S. Student

Lindsey is a second-year master’s student. Her research is on a number of polymetallic VMS deposits from the Noranda Camp in Quebec, looking at the metal endowment throughout the district.

Joseph Pelran

M.S. Student

Joseph is a first-year M.S. student and works as a lab assistant in the MMC Facility. He is interested in doing research related to economic geology and mineralogy of metal deposits. Outside of the classroom, he enjoys drawing, writing, and exploring the outdoors! 

Zaid Al Attar

M.S. Student

Zaid is a graduate student developing a workflow to acquire co-registered UAV-based and laboratory-based hyperspectral data and to interpret these datasets in a fused manner. This study will improve our understanding and ability to interpret UAV- and laboratory-based hyperspectral surveys in the context of mineral exploration.

Pablo Chang Huang

B.S. Student

Pablo is an undergraduate Senior in Geophysical Engineering who works as a lab assistant in the MMC Facility. He is also working on research that uses a machine learning algorithm to automate masking of hyperspectral data to exclude data from core boxes, wooden blocks, and broken material, for hyperspectral core imaging. His research is funded by the Center to Advance the Science of Exploration to Reclamation in Mining.

Past Group Members

  • Daniel Schmidt, M.S.: “Petrographic characterization and evolution of the alkalic-type epithermal Tuvatu Au-Te deposit, Fiji.” Graduation Spring 2023.
  • Connor Gray, M.S.: “A vein petrography and thermodynamic modeling study of a porphyry-related polymetallic Au-Ag deposit in the Central City district, Colorado.” Graduation Fall 2022.
  • McKenzee Peterson, M.S.: “Geology, alteration, and sulfide mineralization of the TV and Jeff precious-metal occurrences in northwestern British Columbia, Canada.” Graduation Fall 2022.
  • Sage Langston-Stewart, M.S.: “Occurrence and distribution of Au and Ag in the Caribou-Cross mining area, Boulder County, Colorado.” Graduation Spring 2022.
  • Alexander Jones, M.S.: “The occurrence and distribution of Ge and Co in the Bornite deposit, Alaska.” Graduation Fall 2020.
  • Kelsey Livingston, M.S.: “The peralkaline Mount Rosa granite: contrasting mineralogy and geochemistry observed in the Mount Rosa granite, Pikes Peak batholith, Colorado.” Graduation Summer 2020.
  • Lyndsey Fisher, M.S.: “Characterization of the mineralized albitite bodies at Biggejavri Kautokeino greenstone belt, Finnmark, northern Norway.” Graduation Fall 2019.
  • Isaac Simon, M.S.: “Massive sulfide alteration to millerite in komatiite-hosted sulfide deposits.” Graduation Summer 2019.
  • Alyssa Smith, M.S.: “Tracing the evolution from magmatic to hydrothermal fluids using zircon generations within the Mount Rosa complex, Pikes Peak batholith, Colorado.” Graduation Spring 2018.
  • Philip Persson, M.S.: “The geochemical and mineralogical evolution of the Mount Rosa complex, El Paso County, Colorado, USA.” Graduation Fall 2017.
  • Timothy Wyatt, M.S.: “The residence of uranium in roll front deposits: A case study.” Graduation Fall 2017.
  • Jae Erickson, M.S.: “Rare-earth element mineralization and formation of the Iron Hill Carbonatite complex, Gunnison County, Colorado, USA.“ Graduation Spring 2015.