Phoebe Hauff

Phoebe Louise Hauff

Monday, August 31st, 1942 - Friday, April 5th, 2019
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Phoebe L. Hauff

Phoebe Louise Hauff, born August 31, 1942, passed away peacefully on April 5, 2019 at St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood, Colorado after a long series of illnesses.
Phoebe will be remembered for her strong and forthright personality, avid travel, generosity to friends, scientific drive for more information on and knowledge of minerals, her love of parties big and small, and service as an international “hub” for mineralogical information and spectral geology.
Phoebe was born in Challenge, California, but moved with her parents, Emil E. Hauff and Grace (Aloise) Lytle Hauff, to Menlo Park, California early in life and lived there until after graduation from high school. She recalled many visits from members of her father’s farming family from North Dakota, especially during the winters after the harvests were completed.
She attended high school at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Atherton, California. Based on stories of her school years, she apparently was a key figure, and often probably also instigator, in many high jinks by a close group of school friends that were not approved of by the nuns, but livened up the environment for the students at the time. Those friendships and the school remained treasured until the end of her life. She graduated in 1960.
Phoebe attended college at the University of California-Berkley (UCB) during the turmoil of the early to mid-1960s. Although she decided not to get involved in the political scene and student unrest and riots, she observed much of the action at the time from nearby buildings. Following on her tradition of extracurricular activities in high school, she participated in many “events” (common in colleges at the time) with schoolmates, including periodic detergent sudsing of a large fountain in town, repurposing of city work and traffic signs, and harassment of rival colleges’ icons. Phoebe also was closely involved in the Newman Hall-Holy Spirit Parish at UCB, a strong Catholic organization on campus then and which remains active today. Phoebe graduated in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. She likewise treasured and remained in contact with many of her classmates from UCB.
Phoebe moved to Colorado to pursue her love of geology as a career and further college studies. She attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins from 1965 to 1968, but did not complete her planned graduate degree program.
She started work at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Lakewood in 1968 and stayed there until 1983. She was a Supervisor in charge of an analytical laboratory which served the USGS Geologic Division geologists assigned to solving problems in mineralogy. It also provided limited mineral identification services to the general public. The laboratory developed mineral identification and characterization techniques and methods and taught classes within the USGS as well as to industry personnel. This is the period when Phoebe developed her in-depth knowledge of mineralogy and mineral analysis, particularly of the clay minerals.

Her wilder side continued after she moved to a rustic house in Conifer, Colorado, including
being a regular patron of the famous Little Bear Bar in Evergreen. The Little Bear then was a
frequently rowdy place, gaining it infamy in the region for bar fights and other carousing. It also
featured live music and frequently hosted big-name acts, including Willie Nelson who
frequented the bar when staying at his house in the area and whom Phoebe got to know and visit
with on many occasions.
Phoebe also served for a time as a volunteer EMT with the Conifer Fire Department. Her main
area of activity was the U.S. Highway 285 corridor, which saw many car accidents due to its
steep and winding roadway. She left the department after dealing with several gruesome
accidents in a short time frame in the early 1970s. She also managed to be personally involved
in a couple accidents, one on a motorcycle and one in a car. She never fully got her knees
repaired from those incidents, which was the basis for her increasing knee and walking problems
in her 60s and early 70s.
In addition to working at the USGS, Phoebe took on an evening job for a few years at the
Montgomery Ward department store in Lakewood to make some extra money. She was in
charge of the night shift for their regional mail order office. During her supervision, the group
did very well and became a significant part of the income stream for Montgomery Ward in the
Denver area.
Phoebe left the USGS in 1983 to begin her entrepreneurial stage of career by starting the Clay
School, based at her house in Conifer. This was a joint venture with Dr. Robert Reynolds of
Dartmouth University and Dr. Ross Geise of State University of New York-Buffalo. The school
was established to teach clay mineralogy concepts and techniques to industry, government
agencies, and academia. Phoebe also became closely involved with the Clay Minerals Society
and their technology development and educational programs.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Phoebe was very active in the dog show community of the
Colorado Front Range. She raised and showed multiple dogs, her favorites being Norwegian
elkhounds (Gatsby being her most beloved dog and last to be shown).
In 1986, Phoebe became a Research Associate at the University of Colorado in Boulder in their
Center for the Study of Earth from Space (CSES). The CSES was established by Dr. Alexander
Goetz as a teaching and research institute in geologic and environmental remote sensing. Dr.
Goetz was formerly with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and one of the
best-known researchers in the field of hyperspectral remote sensing.
At CSES, Phoebe helped set up a mineralogical analysis and research laboratory for the infrared
spectroscopy of minerals. This laboratory interacted with the geologists, geophysicists, and
environmental scientists in CSES and outside researchers. In addition, she worked with graduate
students in a teaching and advisory capacity. The laboratory did fundamental research in
spectral mineralogy using the visible through short-wavelength infrared (SWIR) regions of the
electromagnetic spectrum, particularly concentrating on the SWIR. This was integrated into
remote sensing research using both satellite (LANDSAT TM) and airborne (AVIRIS) sensors.

One of the primary CSES projects in which Phoebe was instrumental was to develop portable-to-the-field ground truthing methods for hyperspectral remote sensing scanners, specifically AVIRIS. The objective was to develop field data collection protocols and mineral spectral libraries using solar-illuminated field spectrometers. This work by Phoebe included participation in a UNESCO-funded program that produced a detailed, multi-analytical infrared spectral database of common minerals identified in different remote sensing environments. Among these were lithologic mapping and clay mineralogy characterization in the Paris Basin with Dr. Medard Thiry of Ecole des Mines de Paris; clay minerals in metallurgical processes in gold heap leach pads; clay minerals for exploration geology with Drs. Raul Madrid and Fred Kruse; clay minerals for geologic and alteration systems mapping with Dr. Kruse; quantification of infrared spectra with Ben Feltzer; authentication and provenance of archeological artifacts using SWIR with Dr. Brian Curtis; mine waste evaluation and characterization with Dr. Kruse; and development of “unmixing” algorithms for mineral identification of hyperspectral imaging spectrometer data with Dr. Kruse. Much of the research was applied to the development of field spectrometers commercially produced by Analytical Spectral Devices (ASD) in Boulder and the PIMA-II, produced by Integrated Spectronics (ISPL) in Sydney, Australia.
In 1991, Phoebe went out on her own using her in-depth analytical expertise in the science of mineralogy, particularly her background in SWIR reflectance spectroscopy, and founded Spectral International Inc. (SII). SII initially was the applications, training, and marketing organization for the PIMA-II portable infrared spectrometer developed by ISPL. SII worked extensively with the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) as part of Phoebe’s efforts with PIMA and building of mineral spectral databases. SII shortly thereafter expanded to include consulting work in the mineral exploration, industrial minerals, mine waste, abandoned mine lands, and environmental industries. Phoebe was the key person at SII for all these functions, but over time the company expanded to include technical, training, and sales associates in five countries.
Phoebe has been acclaimed by some of her colleagues in the mineral exploration industry as the person who single-handedly promoted portable spectrometry to industry, academia and government organizations for finding metal deposits and guiding exploration efforts directly and through other remote sensing means. She did this through marketing efforts both personally (i.e., “banging on doors”) and through numerous technical and trade shows in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. Her introduction of the SWIR technology has been noted as “ground breaking and disruptive…into the mineral exploration community.”
After many years of working with the PIMA spectrometer, SII included activities with ASD to promote and sell their spectrometers. SII then moved to operations with Spectral Evolution Inc. of Massachusetts to help them design a spectrometer to market to the exploration and mining industry and promote sales of that spectrometer.
Phoebe travelled extensively domestically and internationally during both her tenure at CSES and for SII business. She also travelled for pleasure, particularly with her very close friend Concetta Jorgenson, who passed away in 2012. She visited numerous countries and clients, too many to list here, and every continent (multiple times) except Antarctica. She had an endless
appetite for new knowledge of minerals and applications to mineral deposits. There were always more mineral spectra to acquire and mineral repositories to visit to add to her extensive mineral database. She delighted in her numerous business contacts and friends around the world, and kept in regular touch with many of them up until her last months of life.
A major mining industry downturn in 2014 led to dramatically reduced spectrometer sales and consulting jobs. This combined with Phoebe’s increasing health problems over 2014 and 2015 finally ended most SII business and forced Phoebe into a series of hospitals and nursing homes from which she was unable to emerge. Nonetheless, she never gave up hope and plans for a comeback if she could get her health issues back under control and the business climate improved. Even up until a month before her death, she still was hoping and planning for future travel to technical meetings and potential consulting jobs.
Phoebe had no living immediate family. Her beloved cats, Harley and Hudson, have gone to new and loving homes in the Denver area. She is survived by her adopted “family” (family of Concetta Jorgensen), the Jorgensens, Martinsens, and Morgans (godmother of Andre Morgan) of California and Australia, with whom she stayed very close until the end. Phoebe also is survived by a nephew in Minnesota, Monte Engel, and his family. Phoebe had cousins in North Dakota and California, for whom we unfortunately do not have a list of names and locations.
A memorial service for Phoebe will be held in July 2019 in the Denver area (date and location to be announced). Donations can be made in her memory to the Foothills Animal Shelter ( or to the student support programs of the Clay Minerals Society (
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Service Details

  • Celebration of Life

    Thursday, July 25th, 2019 | 10:30am
    Thursday, July 25th, 2019 10:30am
    Rolling Hills Country Club
    15707 W. 26th Avenue
    Golden, Colorado 80401
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Reception

    Thursday, July 25th, 2019 | 11:30am
    Thursday, July 25th, 2019 11:30am
    Rolling Hills Country Club
    Address Not Available
    Service to be followed by a buffet lunch reception. Please RSVP if you plan to attend by July 22 to Douglas Peters (303-907-7601 or


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Kim Heberlein

Posted at 08:21pm
I first met Phoebe in 1996 in San Juan, Argentina. She was giving a training session on the PIMA to the Barrick geos of whom I was one. Her enthusiasm for the work was contagious - I’ve been doing it ever since that day. In recent weeks I’ve had the opportunity to look over some of her work and what stands out is just the sheer volume of research that she’s done on applying spectral methods to mainly (but not only) mining exploration. With that research and with all the training classes that she’s given over the years, she has likely done more than any other person in North America to advance the acceptance of the technology by the industry. She had a larger than life personality and a big heart. Always ready for a laugh. I will miss her.

Anne Thompson

Posted at 03:11pm
I met Phoebe in 1993 – I had data on alunite compositions and she had a PIMA, hence was born a collaboration that lasted several years. With her characteristic excitement over new samples, we ran them in a hotel room at the SEG 1993 meeting in Denver.

The mineral industry owes much to Phoebe Hauff – she realized the value of the PIMA, knowing that with its configuration, a vast quantity of mineral information was possible to document. To get to that point though, a much bigger reference data set than any publicly available would be needed. She virtually single-handedly built a detailed and comprehensive reference library (SPECMIN), which still sets the standard. She travelled North America and beyond, hauling a PIMA with her, running museum and personal collections. She painstakingly recorded information on locations, crystallography, composition. In particular, her knowledge of clay minerals was key to many of the early successes with spectral interpretation.

Phoebe would sit for hours in the hot sun, or in freezing weather in locations all over the world – she never balked at a trip. She constantly surprised those who discounted her ability to weather tough conditions. Every new mineral, deposit type or location was just another grand adventure.

Along the way Phoebe developed a set of best practices in spectral data collection, and guided untold numbers of industry geologists through the intricacies of mineral identification. At meetings and conferences, she would be embraced and welcomed by geologists from all over the world that had worked with her and been taught by her.

Those of us who learned from her have benefited our whole careers from a complete understanding of what a quality spectrum is and the nuances of good identifications. We learned to set-up data collection systems, to question results and to review. Consequently, many exploration teams had success with the technique. All of that work eventually laid the foundation for the industry as a whole to embrace widespread use of field spectrometers as well as the significant and important use of core-logging systems.

Phoebe battled hard, her determination and perseverance may have also cost her. Ultimately though she had a vision for mineral spectroscopy that was impressive and for which we owe a huge debt of gratitude.

Jon Huntington Posted at 10:17pm

Anne. I can only say here-here to your tribute. Jon H

Steve Zuker

Posted at 04:52pm
Phoebe always had time to talk to me about rocks, as you know. I have worked throughout Latin America and Mongolia and whenever we were talking alteration systems, Phoebe’s name and work would become part of the discussion. Many geologists throughout Latin America have let me know their sadness on her passing and they always remembered her great sense of humor and her work. She educated me and many others around the world on the importance of identifying and understanding clay mineralogy and alteration systems of epithermal deposits. Her legacy lives on with the many she interacted with and is deeply missed. Steve Zuker

Médard THIRY

Posted at 03:36am
My dearest Phoebe,

We first met at the International Meeting of AIPEA Clay Conference in Strasbourg in 1989. You participated in the one-week field trip that followed the meeting, and that I was leading on various clay deposits of unusual mineralogy. You were immediately fully immersed in the trip and you contributed to its success!

It was during this tour that you made the decision to work on the interstratified kaolinite-smectite minerals. It was the time you started the adventure of infrared spectroscopic analysis of clay minerals. A crazy adventure in which you embarked on a journey to build a reference data base to be used for interpreting of the hyperspectral remote sensing scanners. I do not know if anyone really believed in the outcome of such an ambitious project … but you believed in it and your enthusiasm was communicative … you made it, and you built a database including all minerals (often hydrated) common or not at the Earth surface … and it worked … with even the development of a field spectrometers that fits in a geologist’s haversack! Unbelievable when I think about it. You were living this adventure night and day, almost obsessively.

You’ve been several times to the Paris Basin. Intense weeks of sampling and measurement. You sit for hours in the middle of a quarry, without any greenery, in the middle of dust clouds and under a scorching sun … crossed legs, computer on your knees … you were accumulating measurements with the PIMA spectrometer … and I was running the quarry to provide samples, more, more, more … … until the sun went down … then the beers to get rid of the dust! They were very exciting weeks with uninterrupted discussion about clay, spectra, and all the things that were going to be generate in terms of new opportunities in exploration and mineral industry.

The adventure lasted at least until the next AIPEA meeting, 4 years later, in Adelaide, Australia. I went out, for studying polluted soils. You have continued to run abandoned and active mineral deposits around the world, to demonstrate the feasibility of your methodology … you adapted a PIMA spectrometer at the end of the arm of a huge mine loader and it determined the ore contents in live. Your conviction and perseverance brought the project to its ultimate industrial completion … and now we know what these spectrometric techniques have brought to the exploration of Mars … there’s you, and even a lot of you under all these.

It was a great scientific and human adventure. Yes I was sometimes exasperated by your immediate demands, the “pressure” you could put on when you wanted a result, a sample, an answer … but I couldn’t even hold it against you … your enthusiasm and conviction took everything and everyone in your path. Happiness to rethink all these things, only good memories … an adventure I was saying, and it was really one.

Great Phoebe … you left and I am sure that those on the other side won by your coming, I almost got jealous!


Anne Thompson Posted at 08:57am

Médard - what a wonderful story! Phoebe was very fond of the work you all did in the Paris Basin. It formed an important part of the foundation of so much of the later work, and how you have captured her spirit and the nature of those campaigns to acquire data and prove the technique!

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