USGS - science for a changing world

USGS Professional Pages

Blank space
Search USGS Professionals Featured Profiles Blank space Frequently Asked Questions  |  About The USGS Professional Pages
bio image of Niki  Wintzer

Niki Wintzer


Contact Info

Short Biography

I serve the USGS as an economic geologist within the Mineral Resources Program, and I have specialized skills in geochemistry and structural geology. I earned 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 Menlo Park, California. I now work in the Spokane, Washington field office as part of the Geology, Minerals, Energy, Geophysics (GMEG) Science Center.

My current research is on the Yellow Pine gold-antimony mineralizing system in central Idaho. As part of a 6-geologist research group, I am investigating the age of mineralization as well as the overall structural setting to better understand why mineralization formed. (Project webpage:

Read Full Professional Summary


Zientek, M.L., Chechetkin, V.S., Parks, H.L., Box, S.E., Briggs, D.A., Cossette, P.M., Dolgopolova, A., Hayes, T.S., Seltmann, R., Syusyura, B., Taylor, C.D., and Wintzer, N.E., 2014, Assessment of undiscovered sandstone copper deposits of the Kodar-Udokan area, Russia: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–M, 129 p. and spatial data. [Link]

Zientek, M.L., Bliss, J.D., Broughton, D.W., Christie, Michael, Denning, P.D., Hayes, T.S., Hitzman, M.W., Horton, J.D., Frost-Killian, Susan, Jack, D.J., Master, Sharad, Parks, H.L., Taylor, C.D., Wilson, A.B., Wintzer, N.E., and Woodhead, Jon, 2014, Sediment-Hosted stratabound copper assessment of the Neoproterozoic Roan Group, Central African Copperbelt, Katanga Basin, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–T, 162 p., and spatial data, [Link]

Taylor, C.D., Causey, J.D., Denning, P.D., Hammarstrom, J.M., Hayes, T.S., Horton, J.D., Kirschbaum, M.J., Parks, H.L., Wilson, A.B., Wintzer, N.E., and Zientek, M.L., 2013, Descriptive models, grade-tonnage relations, and databases for the assessment of sediment-hosted copper deposits—With emphasis on deposits in the Central Africa Copperbelt, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–J, 154 p. and data files. [Link]

Wintzer, N.E., 2012, Deformational episodes recorded in the Skagit Gneiss Complex, North Cascades, Washington, USA: Journal of Structural Geology, v. 42, p. 127-139. [Link]

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]

Dusel-Bacon, Cynthia, Aleinikoff, J.N., Day, W.C., O’Neill, J.M., Slack, J.F., and Wintzer, N.E., 2009, Implications of new SHRIMP U-Pb zircon crystallization ages for the origin of carbonate replacement and skarn mineralization in the western Fortymile Mining District, East-central, Alaska: Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, v. 41, no. 7, p. 417. [Link]

Miller, R.B., Gordon, S.M., Bowring, S.A., Doran, B.A., McLean, N.M., Michels, Z.D., Shea, E.K., Whitney, D.L., Wintzer, N.E., and Mendoza, M.K., 2009, Linking deep and shallow crustal processes in an exhumed continental arc, North Cascades, Washington: Geological Society of America, Field Guide 11, p. 373-406. [Link]

Wintzer, N.E., and Miller R.B., 2009, Structure of the Northern Skagit Gneiss Complex, North Cascades, Washington: Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, v. 41, no. 5, p. 8. [Link]

Miller, R.B., Paterson, S.R., Gordon, Stacia, Michels, Z.D., Shea, E.K., Wintzer, N.E., 2008, Protracted broadly orogen-parallel stretching in an arc during subduction, North Cascades, Washington: Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, v. 40, no. 1, p. 75. [Link]

Kosmidis, Paul, Schaefer*, Niki, Tremain, Emily, and Maxson, Julie, 2002, Textural criteria for paleoenvironmental interpretation of palustrine facies of the Cretaceous Cedar Mountain Formation in Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado and Utah: Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, v. 34, no. 7, p. 280. *Maiden Name [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

Image of Current Focus for Mineral-Resource Assessments


As an economic geologist, I have assessed potential for undiscovered mineral deposits. As part of the USGS Global Mineral Resources Assessment Project, I helped qualitatively assess 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

Image of 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
Back to top

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information:Ask USGS
Page Last Modified: January 24 2013 17:21:51.
Version: 2.6