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18-28. Integrated hyperspectral, geological, and geochemical approaches to characterizing epithermal mineralization and hydrothermal systems


Closing Date: January 6, 2020

This Research Opportunity will be filled depending on the availability of funds. All application materials must be submitted through USAJobs by 11:59 pm, US Eastern Standard Time, on the closing date.



This postdoctoral opportunity is with the Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry (G3) Science Center, an interdisciplinary science center in the USGS Mineral Resources Program (MRP).  The primary purpose of this position is to conduct research that advances understanding of mineral distributions and processes affecting mineral distributions by linking imaging spectroscopy (also known as hyperspectral remote sensing) and geochemistry.

Imaging spectrometers are increasingly being applied in the earth sciences to map of mineral distributions in order to improve our knowledge of geochemical processes and understanding of mineral deposits. Recent technology advancements, including laboratory-based hyperspectral imaging of drill core and hand specimens, tripod-mounted hyperspectral scanning of outcrop and mine faces, and drone-based imaging spectrometers, allow investigations to be made at finer spatial resolution. The accumulation of the long-term archive of publicly-available imaging spectrometer data from the Airborne Visible and InfraRed Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) over large areas of California, Nevada, and the western US now allow opportunities to expand from local, site-based studies to regional studies.  


Candidates for the USGS Mendenhall Fellowship program are solicited to propose innovative work linking multi-scale spectroscopic data to studies of geologic and geochemical processes. The proposed work is anticipated to align with one or more MRP supported projects that combine spectroscopy with detailed mineral characterization and rock and/or water geochemistry in order to provide better geologic understanding of the occurrence and distribution of mineralizing systems and impacts of legacy mine lands on aquatic and terrestrial systems. Multiscale hyperspectral studies are being conducted through MRP-funded projects, including Spectroscopy and Hyperspectral Imaging of Critical Mineral Resources, and Integrated Hyperspectral, Geophysical and Geochemical Studies of Yellowstone National Park Hydrothermal Systems. Candidates will develop studies based on their area(s) of interest and expertise that intersect with MRP project objectives.

Proposals may address, but are not limited to objectives including:

  • Characterizing water/rock interactions producing alteration zones in Yellowstone core material;

  • Characterizing three-dimensional alteration zones using a combination of remotely sensed imaging spectrometer data and drill core imaging;

  • Identification of vegetation patterns associated with mineralized areas and related water/rock/soil interactions.

While developing a proposal, the candidate should consider instruments and analytical facilities that can be utilized over the course of this project.  The USGS Spectroscopy Lab in the G3 Science Center has instrumentation that includes field and laboratory deployable imaging spectrometers and LIDAR. Geochemical and mineralogical analyses of rock and water are available through contracted laboratory services and through collaborations with colleagues working under the MRP Research Geochemistry project.  The G3 Science Center houses a laboratory equipped with a scanning electron microscope and an electron microprobe.  In addition to AVIRIS data sets for areas in California, Nevada, and Yellowstone, hyperspectral data sets are available for Yellowstone drill hole core.  There is an extensive geochemical data set available for Yellowstone hydrothermal features.

Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the Research Advisor(s) early in the application process to discuss project ideas.

Proposed Duty Station: Lakewood, CO

Areas of PhD: Geology, environmental engineering, or related fields (candidates holding a Ph.D. in other disciplines, but with extensive knowledge and skills relevant to the Research Opportunity may be considered).

Qualifications: Applicants must meet the qualifications for: Research Geologist, Research Physical Scientist, Research Geophysicist

(This type of research is performed by those who have backgrounds for the occupations stated above.  However, other titles may be applicable depending on the applicant's background, education, and research proposal. The final classification of the position will be made by the Human Resources specialist.)

Human Resources Office Contact: Audrey Tsujita, 916-278-9395,