Dr. Spencer Titley’s remarkable breadth of scientific expertise and experience, along with a limitless love for teaching students and training professionals, had a profound impact on the mining community. He became a world authority on porphyry copper systems, metal provinces and metallogenesis. His principal focus in generating scientific information was to apply it to the actual problems of discovery of ore deposits and their development as mines. The books and scholarly articles he authored, co-authored, edited and published on porphyry copper deposits of southwestern North America are still go-to references in the field.
Upon graduating in 1951 from Colorado School of Mines with a degree in Geological Engineering, Dr. Titley became a mine geologist at New Jersey Zinc Co.’s Eagle Mine at Gilman, CO. In 1952, he shipped out to Korea as a combat engineer. After returning, his work for New Jersey Zinc continued at the Linchburg Mine in Magdalena, NM. He earned his PhD in Geology and Chemistry on the G.I. Bill from the University of Arizona (UA) in 1958, then worked in exploration for two years before joining the UA faculty in 1960. After 50+years of teaching, he retired from UA in 2009 as Distinguished Professor of Geosciences and as the longest continuous employee in UA history. Dr. Titley mentored over 130 graduate students during his career, many of them becoming leaders in their field.
His work took him around the world, leading to pioneering work in the origin and evolution of porphyry copper deposits. In 1964, Dr. Titley was selected by the U.S. Geological Survey to map the moon by telescope. Before humans landed on the moon, Titley trained NASA Apollo astronauts Alan Shepard, Scott Carpenter, Wally Schirra, Gordon Cooper, Ed White and Thomas Stafford in the geology they would need to explore the moon.
Dr. Titley was a Fellow of the Society of Economic Geologists, Geological Society of America, Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy and the Mineralogical Society of America and an esteemed member of many other professional associations. He served as President of the Arizona Geological Society, on committees and panels of the National Science Foundation and on editorial boards of several journals.
Recognized as an extraordinary economic geologist by his colleagues and former students, Dr. Titley’s list of awards is lengthy. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and was awarded the Medal of Merit from the American Mining Hall of Fame, the D. C. Jackling Award from the Society of Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration, and Colorado School of Mines’ Medal for Distinguished Achievement in Mineral Engineering. The Society of Economic Geologists awarded him the Penrose Gold Medal and named him Thayer Lindsley Distinguished Lecturer in Economic Geology. He also received the Medal of the Geological Society of China. For excellence in teaching, Dr. Titley was honored with the Career Distinguished Teaching Award as well as the Creative Teaching Award from UA.
Click here to watch a video about him.