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Job advertisement PhD position on the Evolution of Seismicity throughout the Lifecycle of Rifting (4 yrs)

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European Geosciences Union

PhD position on the Evolution of Seismicity throughout the Lifecycle of Rifting (4 yrs)

PhD position on the Evolution of Seismicity throughout the Lifecycle of Rifting (4 yrs)


Utrecht University, Faculty of Geosciences, Department of Earth Sciences

Utrecht University has great ambitions for its teaching quality and study success rates. This also applies to its clear research profiles which are centred around four themes: Dynamics of Youth, Institutions, Life Sciences and Sustainability. Utrecht University plays a prominent role in our society and contributes to finding the answers to topical and future societal issues. UU wishes to be a home for everyone. We value staff with diverse backgrounds, perspectives and identities, including cultural, religious or ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. We strive to create a safe and inclusive environment in which everyone can flourish and contribute.

The Department of Earth Sciences conducts teaching and research across the full range of the solid Earth and environmental Earth sciences, with activities in almost all areas of geology, geochemistry, geophysics, biogeology and hydrogeology. The department hosts a highly international tenured staff of over 50 scientists and more than 110 PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. Our research programme spans four intertwined themes: Climate & Life, Earth interior, Earth materials, and Environmental Earth Sciences. We house or have access to a wide variety of world-class laboratories, including our HPT-laboratory


Utrecht, Netherlands


Relevant divisions
Earth Magnetism & Rock Physics (EMRP)
Natural Hazards (NH)
Tectonics and Structural Geology (TS)


Entry level

See 'Terms of employment'

Required education

Application deadline
15 March 2024

16 February 2024

Job description

The Department of Earth Sciences is looking for an enthusiastic and ambitious PhD candidate to work on a project on the Evolution of seismicity throughout the lifecycle of rifting as part of the International Training Network TALENTS.

Seismicity is typically only generated in regions of the continental crust that deform via brittle-frictional processes, i.e., in the upper 15-30 km, depending on rock type. However, the thermal and strength profiles of the crust evolve during the lifecycle of a rift. In this project, the aim is to establish:

  • the temperature and effective normal stress range under which simulated faults have the potential to nucleate tectonic and fluid-induced seismicity; and
  • resulting fault strength variations.
    This will be done by a series of hydrothermal ring shear experiments using the unique apparatus at the HPT laboratory. Rock samples will be selected and obtained from collaborators within TALENTS (EAR, Corinth), as well as others.

We expect this study to result in a deeper understanding of the transition from seismic to aseismic sliding with increasing temperature in a variety of rock types that have been sparsely studied. This will provide key data for assessing seismic hazard in rifts, for numerical models of the seismic cycle, and for the large-scale geodynamic models in TALENTS.

As part of the project, two secondments are planned:

  • a two month stay at the University of Bern, Switzerland, supervised by Rebecca Bell, to characterise faults in the Corinth rift using seismic data; and
  • a three month stay at KNMI, de Bilt, Netherlands (close to our campus) supervised by Elmer Ruigrok, to characterise the seismogenic zone in the Roer Valley rift system aimed at providing seismic, geodetic and geothermal constraints.

A personalised training programme will be set up, reflecting your training needs and career objectives. About 20% of your time will be dedicated to this training component, which includes training on the job in assisting in the Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes of the Earth Sciences department at Utrecht University.

We look forward to your application if you have multiple of the following qualifications:

  • a Master’s degree (MSc) in geophysics or geology, ultimately obtained at the start of the project;
  • quantitative skills including scripting (e.g. Python or Matlab) and data analyses;
  • good English oral and writing skills (C1 level);
  • good team working skills, especially in an (inter)national, interdisciplinary and diverse team;
  • excitement to (learn how to) think across disciplinary and institutional boundaries;
  • experience in working with high pressure/temperature experiments and/or a background in seismic interpretation are advantages.

Terms of employment
You will be offered a full-time PhD position, initially for one year with extension to four years in total upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period. The gross monthly salary starts with € 2,770 in the first year and increases to € 3,539 in the fourth year of employment with a full-time appointment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8,3% per year. A pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions are based on the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities.

In addition to the collective employment conditions, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. These include agreements on professional development, leave arrangements, sports and cultural schemes, and you get discounts on software and other IT products. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment through the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we encourage you to grow. For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.

How to apply

Please, follow this link to the corresponding advertisement on our own website and follow the guidelines there.