Katharina Pfaff

Research Associate Professor, Geology and Geological Engineering
Mineral and Materials Characterization (MMC) Facility Manager

Katharina Pfaff



  • Ph.D., Economic Geology, University Tuebingen, Germany, 2010
  • M.Sc., Mineralogy, University Tuebingen, Germany, 2007


Research Interests

  • Mineral chemistry and mineralogy.
  • Geochemistry of hydrothermal ore deposits.
  • Economic geology of hydrothermal ore deposits.
  • Thermodynamic modeling of element solubilities, transportation and precipitation mechanisms, and fluid/rock interaction.
  • Igneous petrology in peralkaline systems, magmatic layering.
  • Rare earth element systematics in igneous and hydrothermal systems.
  • Radiogenic and stable isotope geochemistry.


Selected Publications

  • Dunkl, I., Von Eynatten, H., Ando, S., Lynsdorf, K., Morton, A., Alexander, B., Aradi, L., Augustsson, C., Bahlburg, H., Barbarano, M., Benedictus, A., Berndt, J., Bitz, I., Boekhout, F., Breitfeld, T., Cascalho, J., Costa, P.J.M., Ekwenye, O., Feher, K., Flores-Aqueveque, V., Fuhring, P., Giannini, P., Goetz, W., Guedes, C., Gyurica, G., Hennig-Breitfeld, J., Hulscher, J., Jafarzadeh, M., Jagodzinski, R., Jozsa, S., Kelemen, P., Keulen, N., Kovacic, M., Liebermann, C., Limonta, M., Luzar-Oberiter, B., Markovic, F., Melcher, F., Miklos, D.G., Moghalu, O., Mounteney, I,. Nascimento, D., Novakovic, T., Obbagy, G., Oehlke, M., Omma, J., Onuk, P., Passchier, S., Pfaff, K., Linconir, L.P., Power, M., Razum, I., Resentini, A., Sagi, T., Salata, D., Salguerio, R., Schonig, J., Sitnikova, M., Sternal, B., Szakmany, G., Szokaluk, M., Thamo-Bozso, E., Toth, A., Tremblay, J., Verhaegen, J., Villasenor, T., Wagreich, M., Wolf, A., Yoshida, K., 2020, Comparability of heavy mineral data – The first interlaboratory round robin test. Earth-Science Reviews.
  • Van Rythoven, A.D., Pfaff, K., Clark, J.G., 2020, Use of QEMSCAN to characterize oxidized REE ore from the Bear Lodge carbonatite, Wyoming, USA. Ore and Energy Resource Geology, 2-3, 100005.
  • Nicco, M., Holley, E.A., Hartlieb, P., Pfaff, K., 2020, Textural and Mineralogical Controls on Microwave-Induced Cracking in Granites. Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering.
  • Cone, K., Wendlandt, R., Pfaff, K., Orlandini, O.F., 2020, Texture constraints on crystal size distribution methodology: An application to the Laki fissure eruption. American Mineralogist, 105, 585-598.
  • Alford, L., Gysi, A., Hurtig, N., Monecke, T., Pfaff, K., 2020, Porphyry-related polymetallic Au-Ag vein deposit in the Central City district, Colorado: Mineral paragenesis and pyrite trace element chemistry. Ore Geology Reviews, 119, 103295.
  • Nie, J., Ren, X., Saylor, J.E., Su, Q., Horton, B.K., Bush, M.A., Chen, W., Pfaff, K., 2020, Magnetic polarity stratigraphy, provenance, and paleoclimate analysis of Cenozoic strata in the Qaidam Basin, NE Tibetan Plateau. Bulletin, 132, 310-320.
  • Tharalson, E.R., Monecke, T., Reynolds, T.J., Zeek, L., Pfaff, K., Kelly, N.M., 2019, The Distribution of Precious Metals in High-Grade Banded Quartz Veins from Low-Sulfidation Epithermal Deposits: Constraints from micro-XRF Mapping. Minerals, 9, 740.
  • Wang, Z., Zhang, H., Garzanti, E., Nie, J., Peng, W., Ando, S., Hu, X., Pan, B., Pfaff, K., 2019, Evolution of the Upper Yellow River as Revealed by Changes in Heavy-Mineral and Geochemical (REE) Signatures of Fluvial Terraces (Lanzhou, China). Minerals, 9, 603.
  • Wang, Z., Nie, J., Wang, J., Zhang, H., Peng, W., Garzanti, E., Hu, X., Stevens, T., Pfaff, K., Pan, B., 2019, Testing Contrasting Models of the Formation of the Upper Yellow River Using Heavy-Mineral Data From the Yinchuan Basin Drill Cores. Geophysical Research Letters, 46, 10338-10345.
  • Peng, W., Nie, J., Wang, Z., Qiang, X., Garzanti, E., Pfaff, K., Song, Y., Stevens, T., 2018, A major change in precipitation gradient on the Chinese Loess Plateau at the Pliocene-Quaternary boundary. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences, 155, 134-138.
  • Qiu, K-F., Marsh, E., Yu, H-C., Pfaff, K., Gulbransen, C., Gou, Z-Y., Li, N., 2017, Fluid and metal sources of the Wenquan porphyry molybdenum deposit, Western Qinling, NW China. Ore Geology Reviews, 86, 459-473.
  • Peng, W., Wang, Z., Song, Y., Pfaff, K., Luo, Z., Nie, J., Chen, W., 2016, A comparison of heavy mineral assemblage between the loess and the Red Clay sequences on the Chinese Loess Plateau. Aeolian Research, 21, 87-91.
  • Nie, J., Peng, W., Pfaff, K., Möller, A. Garzanti, E., Andò, S., Stevens, T., Bird, A., Chang, H., Song, Y., Liu, S., Ji, J., 2013, Controlling factors on heavy mineral assemblages in Chinese loess and Red Clay. Palaeography, Plaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 381-382, 110-118.
  • Pfaff, K., Staude, S., Markl, G., 2012. On the origin of sellaite (MgF2)-rich deposits in Mg-poor environments. American Mineralogist, 97, 1987-1997.
  • Staude, S., Mordhorst, T., Nau, S., Pfaff, K., Bruegmann, G., Jacob, D.E., Markl, G, 2012. Hydrothermal carbonates of the Schwarzwald ore district, southwestern Germany: Carbon source and conditions of formation using delta18O, delta13C, 87Sr/86Sr, and fluid inclusions. Canadian Mineralogist, 50, 1401-1434.
  • Stroebele, F., Staude, S., Pfaff, K., Premo, W.R., Hildebrandt, L.H., Baumann, A., Pernicka, E., Markl, G., 2012. Pb isotope constraints on fluid flow and mineralization processes in SW Germany. Neues Jahrbuch fuer Mineralogie, 189, 287-309.
  • Pfaff, K., Koenig, A., Wenzel, T., Ridley, I., Hildebrandt, L.H., Leach, D.L., Markl, G., 2011. Trace and minor element variations and sulfur isotopes in crystalline and colloform ZnS: Incorporation mechanisms and implications for their genesis. Chemical Geology, 286, 118-134.
  • Staude, S., Göb, S., Pfaff, K., Ströbele, F., Premo, W.R., Markl, G., 2011. Deciphering fluid sources of hydrothermal systems: A combined Sr- and S-isotope study on barite (Schwarzwald, SW Germany). Chemical Geology, 286, 1-20.
  • Schilling, J., Wu, F.-Y., McCammon, C., Wenzel, T., Marks, M.A.W., Pfaff, K., Jacob, D.E., Markl, G., 2011. The compositional variability of eudialyte-group minerals. Mineralogical Magazine, 75, 87-115.
  • Danisik, M., Pfaff, K., Evans, N.J., Manoloukos, C., Staude, S., McDonald, B.J., Markl, G., 2010. Tectonothermal history of the Schwarzwald Ore District (Germany): An apatite triple dating approach. Chemical Geology, 278, 58-69.
  • Pfaff, K., Hildebrandt, L.H., Leach, D.L., Jacob, D.E., Markl, G., 2010. Formation of the Mississippi Valley-Type Zn-Pb-Ag deposit in the extensional setting of the Upper Rhinegraben in the Wiesloch area, SW Germany. Mineralium Deposita, 45, 647-666.
  • Staude, S., Dorn, A., Pfaff, K., Markl, G., 2010. Assemblages of Ag-Bi sulfosalt and conditions of their formation: the type locality of schapbachite (Ag4Pb0.2Bi0.4S) and neighbouring mines in the Schwarzwald ore district, Southern Germany. Canadian Mineralogist, 48, 441-466.
  • Pfaff, K., Wenzel, T., Schilling, J., Marks, M.A.W., Markl, G., 2010. A fast and easy-to-use approach to cation assignment for eudialyte-group minerals. Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, 187/1, 69-81.
  • Pfaff, K., Romer, R.L., Markl, G., 2009. U-Pb ages of ferberite, chalcedony, agate, ‘U-mica’ and pitchblende: constraints on the mineralization history of the Schwarzwald ore district. European Journal of Mineralogy, 21, 817-836.
  • Pfaff, K., Krumrei, T., Marks, M., Wenzel, T., Rudolf, T., Markl, G., 2008. Chemical and physical evolution of the ‚lower layered sequence’ from the nepheline syenitic Ilímaussaq intrusion, South Greenland: implications for the origin of magmatic layering in peralkaline felsic liquids. Lithos, 106, 280-296.

KPfaff Full Publication List


Katharina’s Research Group
Mines Geoscience Laboratories
MMC Facility
Berthoud Hall 118/119
Fax: 303-273-3859