Karin Olson Hoal

Karin Elizabeth Olson Hoal

Wold Family Professor in Environmental Balance and Human Sustainability


Karin Olson Hoal is the Wold Family Professor in Environmental Balance for Human Sustainability at Cornell University. She has degrees from St Lawrence University, McGill University, and the University of Massachusetts and was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Cape Town. Her early research in diamonds, anorthosites and metasomatism of the Proterozoic mantle led to work in the minerals industry and subsequent roles developing the fields of quantitative mineralogy and geomet – understanding the nature of geologic and mineral variability for more effective mineral operations. Before coming to Cornell, Karin was Director of the Advanced Mineralogy Research Center at Colorado School of Mines, developing new applications in quantitative mineralogy for minerals, energy, environmental and planetary science. She is a consultant in geomet and has worked and lectured in Southern Africa, Australia and the Americas. Karin is a Fellow of the Society of Economic Geologists, Chair of the Sustainable Development Committee for the Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, an active member of Women in Mining and an Emeritus board member for the Colorado Women’s Education Foundation.

Research Interests

As the Wold Family Professor, Karin’s focus areas relate to helping transform the minerals and energy industries be more innovative, effective and sustainable while providing the essential materials and power needed by global society. This work involves building interdisciplinary approaches that directly link geological variability in the subsurface with positive business outcomes to reduce the uncertainty and risk in mineral projects.  Technical derisking of projects integrates the data from characterization of geological materials with process characteristics and downstream sustainability impacts. Research into the micron- to meter scale elemental and mineral deportment of ores, energy materials, and their waste products helps to uncover both deleterious components as well as potentially valuable materials that may be naturally upgradeable. To do this work requires cross-functional approaches and new data-centric 3D models, and we are building partnerships with industry and financial institutions to develop this space. Corollary projects include developing geomet-economic models, quantifying the benefits of improved geological understanding in mining, geological variability in diamond deposits, mineral characterization of mine waste, mineralogy of beach sands, Adirondack geology applied to Cornell’s Earth Source Heat geothermal project, and landfill mining.

Selected Publications

Olson Hoal, K., (in press, 2020), The importance of geomet in resource estimation, in Koutz, F., Ed., Geological Society of Nevada Symposium Proceedings Volume, Reno

Olson Hoal, K. (in revision, 2020), Value in variability: The geological basis for geomet, Invited review paper, Geology and Mining Series, Society of Economic Geologists Special Publication

Olson Hoal, K., 2017, The value of full project integration, Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits, 3 pp.

Gregory, M.J., Lang, J.R., Gilbert, S., and Olson Hoal, K., 2013, Geometallurgy of the Pebble Cu-Au-Mo deposit, Alaska: Implications for gold distribution and paragenesis, Economic Geology, May 2013, v 108., p 463-482.

Smith, K.S., Olson Hoal, K., Walton-Day, K., Stammer, J., and Pietersen, K., 2013, Automated quantitative micro-mineralogical characterization for environmental applications, Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Preprint 13-140,10 pp.

Hardardóttir, V., Hannington, M., Hedenquist, J., Kjarsgaard, I., and Hoal, K., 2011, Cu-rich scales in the Reykjanes geothermal system Iceland, Economic Geology v 105, 1143-1155

Hoal, K.O., Stammer, J.S. and Ross, J.K., 2010, The business case for integrated materials characterization in mining projects, in: Castro, R., Emery, X., and Kuyvenhoven, R., eds., MININ 2010, Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Mining Innovation, Santiago, Gecamin, p. 443–450.

Hoal, K.O., Appleby, S.K., Stammer, J.G., and Palmer, C., 2009, SEM-based quantitative mineralogical analysis of peridotite, kimberlite, and concentrate, in: Foley, S., Aulbach, S., Brey, G., Grütter, H., Höfer, H., Jacob, D., Lorenz, V., Stachel, T., and Woodland, A., eds., Lithos 112S (2009) 41–46.

Hoal, K.O., Stammer, J.G., Smith, K.S., Walton-Day, K., and Russell, C.C, 2009, Application of quantitative micro-mineralogy to tailings and mine waste, in: Sego, D., Alostaz, M., and Beir, N., eds., Tailings and Mine Waste 2009, Calgary, University of Alberta Geotechnical Center, p. 703–709.

Hoal, K., Stammer, J., Appleby, S., Gregory, M., Woodhead, J., and Ross, J., 2009, Impacts of quantitative mineral characterization on processing, in: Malhotra, D., Taylor, P.R., Spiller, E., and LeVier, M., eds., Recent Advances in Mineral Processing Plant Design, Littleton, Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, Inc., p. 79–84.

Hoal, K.O., Stammer, J.G., Appleby, S.K., Botha, J., Ross, J.K., and Botha, P.W., 2009, Research in quantitative mineralogy: Examples from diverse applications, Mineral Engineering, v. 22, (4), p. 402–408.

Hoal, K.O., 2008, Getting the geo into geomet, SEG Newsletter, no. 73, Society of Economic Geologists, April, p. 1, 11-15.

Hoal, K.O., 2006, Integrating the diamond development process, Gems & Gemology, v. XLII, 2006, p. 134-135.

Hoal, K.O., McNulty, T.P., and Schmidt, R., 2006, Metallurgical advances and their impact on mineral exploration and mining, Invited paper, Wealth Creation in the Minerals Industry, Society of Economic Geologists Special Publication 12, p. 243-261.

Boyd, F.R., Pearson, D.G., Hoal, K.O., Hoal, B.G., Nixon, P.H., Kingston, M.J., and Mertzman, S.A., 2004, Garnet lherzolites from Louwrensia, Namibia: Bulk composition and P/T relations, in: Mitchell, R.H., Grütter, H.S., Heaman, L.M., Scott Smith, B.H., and Stachel, T., eds., Proceedings of the 8th International Kimberlite Conference,  Volume 2, Lithos, vol. 77, Amsterdam, Elsevier, p. 573-592.

Hoal, K.O., 2003, Samples of Proterozoic iron-enriched mantle from the Premier kimberlite, Lithos, vol. 71, p. 259-272.


PhD, Geosciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
MSc, Earth Science, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec
BSc, Geology, Music, and French, St. Lawrence University, Canton NY 1980
2eme Degré French, Université de Rouen, Mont St-Aignan, France 1978
, MA 1