Skip to main content
Bayi Glacier in Qilian Mountain, China (Credit: Xiaoming Wang, distributed via

Job advertisement PhD position on the Erosion of Silicate Grouting in Construction Pits (4 yrs)

EGU logo

European Geosciences Union

PhD position on the Erosion of Silicate Grouting in Construction Pits (4 yrs)

PhD position on the Erosion of Silicate Grouting in Construction Pits (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, among which is the Multiscale Porous Media Lab.


Utrecht, Netherlands


Relevant divisions
Hydrological Sciences (HS)
Nonlinear Processes in Geosciences (NP)
Soil System Sciences (SSS)


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 Erosion of silicate grouting in construction pits (SilPit), funded by NWO. In this 4-year study, you will work in an interdisciplinary team that works on the injection and erosion processes of silicate grout in the subsurface from fundamental micro scale to the larger application scale.

Urbanisation drives a growing demand for underground constructions and infrastructure. Building them below the groundwater table requires dry construction pits. For this purpose, silicate grout gels are typically injected to the soil. They solidify and thus prevent the inflow of groundwater into the construction pit and/or strengthen the unconsolidated soils. However, in recent years silicate grout is used beyond its traditional limits, like larger and deeper construction pits in more challenging environments such a contaminated sites and complex geochemical and soil stratigraphy conditions. This yields uncertainties in the application of silicate grout, its lifetime, and its environmental impact.

The project, SilPit, addresses these uncertainties by experimentally and numerically investigating erosion processes of silicate grout, under varying physical, chemical and configurational conditions from fundamental micro scale to the larger application scale. Integration with the four companies that comprise the User Committee of SilPit facilitates direct implementation of our fundamental research into practice.

You will be working on experiments and computational modelling of silicate group injection and erosion processes with the focus on the field scale application. You will coordinate your work with another PhD candidate and a postdoc working on the SipPit project. Your activities are built up around:

  • Experimental work: you will perform column scale experiments and analysis on injection and erosion of silicate grout in soil. You will collaborate with the other PhD candidate who is studying silicate grout behaviour at the micro scale.
  • Numerical Modelling: You will develop reliable field scale reactive transport models (using Python and MODFLOW) for silicate erosion. You will coordinate your work with a postdoc who works on upscaling of physiochemical relationships from pore- to Darcy-scale.

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:

  • You hold a Master’s degree in a relevant field of the natural sciences or engineering by the time the position starts (June 2024 or a.s.a.p. thereafter).
  • You have experience in any of the following fields: earth science, civil engineering with knowledge of field (continuum) scale computational models.
  • You are a curious and enthusiastic researcher ready to learn about interactions between injected fluids and the porous subsurface environment.
  • You have good English oral and writing skills (C1 level).
  • You have a creative mindset, excellent analytical and communication skills with a good team spirit to work in an interdisciplinary and internationally oriented environment.

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 guide lines there.