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Niki Wintzer


Contact Info

Short Biography

I serve the USGS as an economic and structural geologist. I hold an M.S. in Geology from San Jose State University (2009) and a B.S. in Earth Sciences from California Polytechnic State University (2004). During my M.S. studies, I joined the USGS in the Menlo Park, California office. Currently, I work in the Spokane, Washington field office within the Geology, Minerals, Energy, Geophysics (GMEG) Science Center. My current projects include geophysical and structural analysis of the Stillwater Complex in Montana and qualitative assessments of potential for undiscovered sediment-hosted stratabound copper deposits worldwide.

Read Full Professional Summary


Ludington, Steve; John, D.A.; Muntean, J.L.; Hanson, A.D.; Castor, S.B.; Henry, C.D.; Wintzer, Niki; Cline, J.S.; Simon, A.C., 2009. Mineral-Resource Assessment of Northern Nye County, Nevada - A Progress Report. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2009-1271, ii, 13 p. [Link]










My Science Topics

Science Topic
Geologic Processesfolding
Geologic Processesplate tectonics
Geologic Processessedimentation
Geologic Processesrock deformation
Natural Resourcesmineral resources
Geologic Processesfaulting
Natural Resourcesmining and quarrying
Natural Resourcesresource exploration

My USGS Science Strategy Areas

Energy & Minerals for America's Future

Mineral-Resource Assessments


As an economic geologist, I assess potential for undiscovered mineral deposits. As part of the USGS Global Mineral Resources Assessment Project, I qualitatively assessed potential for undiscovered sediment-hosted stratabound copper deposits in 10 worldwide locations. It is incredible thatalthough this deposit type varies a bitthe rocks formed and deformed similarly all over the world throughout much of geologic time. (The above figure displays the ore-forming system of sediment-hosted stratabound copper and is modified from Hitzman and others, 2010)

Hitzman, M.W., Selley, David, and Bull, Stuart, 2010, Formation of sedimentary rock-hosted stratiform copper deposits through Earth history: Economic Geology, v. 105, p. 627–639.

Structural Analyses

As a structural geologist, I study the fabric (visible patterns) in rocks to figure out how they got that way.  For example, I analyzed foliation, lineation, and fold orientations that I measured in mid to deep crustal rocks.  These once-deep now-shallow rocks are part of the Skagit Gneiss Complex in the North Cascades of Washington State.  I was able to apply my structural analyses to regional-scale geology and separte out 5 distinct deformational episodes.  I discovered a previously unknown interval of regional shortening (the rocks got squished together more often than geologists knew previously).  Combining my research with recently determined geochronlogic dates (Gordon and others, 2010) in the study area, we were able to determine roughly when the rocks were deformed during the 5 different episodes. See Wintzer (2012)  to the left in the Publications section for a link to my professional publication.

Gordon, S.M., Bowring, S.A., Whitney, D.L., Miller, R.B., McLean, N., 2010, Timescales of metamorphism, deformation, and crustal melting in a continental arch, North Cascades, USA: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 122, p. 1308–1330

Contact Information

Niki Wintzer
W. 904 Riverside Avenue
Spokane, WA 99201-1011
509-368-3199 - Fax
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