KEN LOVSTROM (1943-2005)


On December 17, 2005, the Association lost a truly great geochemist and member. Ken served on Council starting in 1977, became Vice President in 1980, and served as President for the 1981-1982 term. He was also an active participant in several committees and most recently served on the Awards Committee that granted Ian Nichol Honorary Membership in the Association in September, 2005.

After graduating from the University of Arizona with a B.S. degree in Geosciences in 1969, Ken began a career that would ultimately lead him around the globe several times and lead to significant mineral discoveries. Early in his career he was influenced by the great Lyman Huff, who’s 1962 paper entitled “A geochemical study of copper deposits hidden beneath an alluvial cover in Pima County, Arizona” undoubtedly wet his appetite for exploring through cover. This served Ken well as his later work with biogeochemistry led to important Cu and Au discoveries in Arizona and Nevada. Hired as a consultant by Goldfields in the mid-‘80s, Ken conducted a sage survey over the recently discovered outcropping Chimney Creek deposit in Humboldt County, Nevada and extended the survey south into the gravel covered area to the edge of the Goldfields claims. In addition to a very robust Au anomaly in sage over the Chimney Creek system, an isolated 8-point anomaly also occurred in the southern-most part of the grid and was open to the south. The anomaly was not initially drilled as it was thought to be related to contamination from the Getchell smelter, or perhaps erosion off the Chimney Creek system. Goldfields eventually tested the anomaly, leading to the discovery of the giant, completely covered, Twin Creeks deposit. Ken recently discussed the discovery history and mentioned that the survey in the flats was conducted on horse back. Use of biogeochemistry under Ken’s direction also led to the discovery of the completely blind Sol Cu deposit in Arizona in the early ‘70s.

Ken was Chief Geochemist for Amax Exploration for 16 years and was a key contributor to Amax’s industry-leading effort to understand porphyry molybdenum deposits and how to explore for them. Shortly after leaving Amax he returned as a consultant to study their covered Sleeper Au discovery in Nevada and systematically sampled the gravel benches as the overburden was being stripped. This work demonstrated that Au and pathfinder elements migrate vertically through overburden.

Ken’s consulting business thrived due to his knowledge, experience and especially his friendly and helpful personality. He was a key consultant for Phelps Dodge and recently signed-on with Newmont. During a trip to Southeast Alaska for Phelps Dodge with Roger Steininger, they became stranded on a beach for 3 days when their helicopter failed to return. While both were confident of their survival, their families and associates had no idea of their situation. Undoubtedly, Ken developed a greater appreciation for life, family, and friends out of that incident.

Ken’s enthusiasm and passion for exploration geochemistry was contagious. His breadth of expertise in exploration geochemistry was unparalleled and he stayed current with the latest technology. From developing standards, applying the latest methods, or testing the latest analytical technology, Ken was a geochemist who could do it all. Ken will be sorely missed by his colleagues, friends and family.

He leaves his wife of 40 years, Jean, daughter Kathy (Financial Analyst - Tucson, Arizona), son Eric (Business Owner - Anchorage, Alaska) and grandchildren Caelan and Ryleigh.

An endowed scholarship fund has been established at the University of Arizona to honor Ken Lovstrom. To contribute to this fund, please contact:

Craig Barker
University of Arizona Foundation
1111 N. Cherry Avenue
Tucson, Arizona 85721

David Kelley, Roger Steininger, Shea Clark Smith, Greg Hill
March 2006