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PhD position in petrology/volcanology - Afar magmatic province

PhD position in petrology/volcanology - Afar magmatic province


KU Leuven - Department of Earth Sciences

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Leuven, Belgium


Relevant division
Geochemistry, Mineralogy, Petrology & Volcanology (GMPV)

Full time

Student / Graduate / Internship

~ 2000 euro/netto per month

Preferred education

Application deadline
15 October 2019

16 September 2019

Job description

The Petrology Unit from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the KU Leuven (Belgium) invites applications for a 4-year PhD position in igneous petrology starting in January 2020. In the frame of a FWO-funded Odysseus project to Olivier Namur, we seek a highly motivated doctoral student who is interested in pursuing fundamental research in Earth Sciences. The candidate should have basic knowledge in the areas of igneous petrology and thermodynamics. Required qualifications are an interest in volcanic rocks, experimental petrology, analytical techniques (EPMA, LA-ICP-MS, XANES) and a degree in Earth Sciences or an associated discipline.

The project aims to: Quantifying the plumbing system architecture of several magmatic centres from the Afar triple junction at the northern end of the East African rift system. The PhD project will investigate the evolution of continental rift segments that document various stages/types of the rifting-drifting transition. The different rift segments in the Afar region display variable crustal thicknesses related to variable stages of the extensional process or to differential accretion of juvenile magmatism. The PhD project will aim at deciphering (1) the mantle source and mantle melting conditions beneath active volcanoes, (2) the crustal architecture of the plumbing systems (depth of magma storage regions, temperature of magmas, redox conditions), (3) the mechanisms and conditions of magma differentiation in the magma chambers; (4) a comparison between different volcanoes and rift segments. Samples for this project are already available but two field seasons (Erta Ale and/or Assal) will be organized during the course of the project.

Tasks will include:

  • Fieldwork in to two rift segments of the Afar triple junction (Ethiopia, Djibouti) in 2020 and 2021
  • Bulk rock analysis of lavas by X-ray fluorescence
  • Measurement of concentration profiles of major and trace elements in different minerals using electron microprobe and laser-ablation ICP-MS techniques
  • Diffusion modelling of measured concentration profiles in crystals to obtain cooling rates
  • Textural analysis of lavas
  • Experimental petrology at low- to high-pressure
  • Data interpretation and presentation of results in scientific publications


  • A MSc degree or equivalent in Earth Sciences (or associated discipline)
  • A strong interest in igneous petrology and analytical techniques
  • Experience in electron microprobe analyses and/or laser-ablation ICP-MS techniques is an asset
  • Good written and spoken English skills, and the motivation to work in an international team
  • An interest in technical optimization of equipment and participation in development of analytical and experimental procedures

The position is funded for 4 years and will start on 01.01.2020. Salary and benefits will be according to Belgian Public Service Sector salary group. The PhD student will work on the project with Olivier Namur in collaboration with researchers from the University of Lorraine and CRPG (France, Nancy). A co-tutelle will be organized between both universities. As an equal opportunity employer, the KU Leuven strongly encourages women to apply. Equally qualified disabled applicants will be given preference.

How to apply

Please send your application as a single pdf document (including motivation, CV, certificates, names of 1-2 referees) on the vacancy website of the KU Leuven ( before 15.10.2019. The review process will proceed until the position is filled. Questions can be addressed to Olivier Namur: