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Job advertisement PhD Position - Characterizing groundwater flow direction through Active Fiber-Optic Distributed Temperature Sensing (active-DTS)

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European Geosciences Union

PhD Position - Characterizing groundwater flow direction through Active Fiber-Optic Distributed Temperature Sensing (active-DTS)

PhD Position - Characterizing groundwater flow direction through Active Fiber-Optic Distributed Temperature Sensing (active-DTS)

University of Liège logo

University of Liège

The GEO 3 (Geotechnologies, Hydrogeology, Geophysical Prospecting) research team at the University of Liège (Belgium) consists of 5 internationally-recognized permanent members and around ten non-permanent members (doctoral candidates, post-doctoral researchers, research engineers). The doctoral candidate will be supervised by Serge Brouyère, a professor at the University of Liège specializing in groundwater quality, and Nataline Simon, a post-doctoral researcher specialized in quantifying groundwater flow. The doctoral candidate will have access to doctoral training programs offered by the ULiège and will have the opportunity to attend international conferences, workshops, and summer schools.


Liège, Belgium


Relevant division
Hydrological Sciences (HS)

Full time

Entry level


Required education

Application deadline
Open until the position is filled

9 June 2023

Job description

The question of the groundwater flow direction is essential in many hydrogeological contexts, such as the characterization of polluted soils, as well as the understanding of complex environments (coastal aquifers or groundwater-river interface), where groundwater flows can be dynamic and highly variable in time and space. In this context, the research team GEO³-ULiège is pleased to announce a doctoral position focusing on the development of a new approach for characterizing and quantifying the water flow direction in aquifers. This position is part of the REPAIRS project (RisquE de Pollution de l’eAu souterraIne par une approche centRée sur les flux massiqueS) recently funded under the FEDER calls.

The developed approach will rely on the use of active-DTS (Distributed Temperature Sensing) measurements, which involve monitoring temperature changes induced by the injection of an artificial heat source into a saturated porous medium (Simon et al., 2020)1. This method provides groundwater fluxes estimates at high spatial resolution, distributed along the heated optical fiber cable. Although very effective for measuring groundwater fluxes, the application of the active-DTS method remains challenging when the direction of the fluxes is uncertain, which limits its applicability in aquifers.

In this context, the PhD student will have to develop and validate an innovative measurement system based on active-DTS measurements for quantifying groundwater fluxes and their direction. Several systems could be considered for this purpose, such as installing optical fiber cables around a central heating device or using multiple heated optical fiber cables deployed around a borehole. The thermal response measured along the optical fiber cables in response to the injection of heat will be use as a marker of the groundwater flow direction. The developed innovative system will not only estimate the fluxes but also their spatial variability to assess the heterogeneity of the subsurface. A part of the work will involve validating the use of the innovative system and developing interpretation methods through laboratory measurements and numerical modeling. The validated tool will be tested in the field through borehole measurements, which may includes drilling new boreholes equipped with optical fiber cables.

How to apply

Requirements :

  • Master’s degree in Geosciences or Environmental Sciences (or equivalent).
  • Autonomous and organized, the candidate should be versatile. The candidate will work on aspects of numerical modeling and data interpretation anb should be comfortable with laboratory work and field measurements.
  • Applicants must be proficient in both written and oral English
  • Proficiency in Matlab or Python.

The candidate must provide:

  • A motivation letter describing their research interests, skills, and motivations for this position
  • A detailed CV including a list of previous research work and publications, if applicable.
  • Names and contacts of two references (one of whom should be the main supervisor of the candidate’s thesis or equivalent).
  • Diplomas (or translations) confirming the successful completion of a bachelor’s and master’s degree (or equivalent). If the master’s degree is not yet completed, please provide a statement confirming the submission of a master’s thesis.
  • Any relevant documents that can support the application.

Applications must be submitted in French or English (all supporting documents should be translated
into one of these languages). Interested candidates are invited to contact Nataline Simon ( to discuss the doctoral offer and apply.