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Job advertisement PhD position on Induced Seismicity and Geothermal Energy Production (4 years)

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European Geosciences Union

PhD position on Induced Seismicity and Geothermal Energy Production (4 years)

PhD position on Induced Seismicity and Geothermal Energy Production (4 years)


Utrecht University, Faculty of Geosciences, Department of Earth Sciences

Utrecht University’s Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth’s core to its surface, including man’s spatial and material utilisation of the Earth – always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With a population of 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the Faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, Sustainable Development, and Human Geography & Spatial Planning.

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. TNO, partner in this project, is an independent statutory research organisation that focuses on applied science. TNO has offices at the university’s campus in a building adjacent to the Faculty of Geosciences.

About Utrecht
Utrecht is the fourth largest city in the Netherlands with a population of nearly 360,000 and forms a hub in the middle of the country. Its historical city centre and its modern central station can easily be reached from our campus in Utrecht Science Park by public transport or by a 15-minute bicycle ride. Utrecht boasts beautiful canals with extraordinary wharf cellars housing cafés and terraces by the water, as well as a broad variety of shops and boutiques.


Utrecht, Netherlands


Relevant divisions
Energy, Resources and the Environment (ERE)
Geodynamics (GD)
Tectonics and Structural Geology (TS)

Full time

Entry level

See under 'Terms of employment'

Required education

Application deadline
14 April 2024

21 March 2024

Job description

We learned a lot by studying induced seismicity due to gas extraction in Groningen, The Netherlands. In our multidisciplinary project NEPTUNUS (“Novel methods for the Evaluation and Physical understanding of the Transient natUre of iNdUced Seismicity”) we want to build on the state-of-the-art tools and lessons learned in Groningen to understand which variables and parameters are crucial for the occurrence and mitigation of induced seismicity. The ultimate objective is to provide constraints on the envelope for safe utilisation of the subsurface, which can feed into existing and upcoming seismic hazard assessments for future subsurface use.

We seek an enthusiastic and ambitious PhD candidate to model and understand induced seismicity and assess key model parameters and state variables for depletion and geothermal energy production. You will:

  • develop a stochastic modelling workflow for the representation of sub seismic low-offset reservoir faults in a state-of-the-art physics-based, data-driven modelling framework to quantify fault loading and seismic and aseismic slip;
  • analyse the importance of sub seismic faults and test and calibrate this model to the Groningen field data and operational geothermal data and assess uncertainties of the state and parameters of seismicity models;
  • analyse differences, resemblances, and sensitivities of characteristics of induced seismicity due to gas depletion and geothermal energy production;
  • apply the modelling approach through a sensitivity analysis and data assimilation study to a geothermal reservoir in the West Netherlands Basin – if seismic reactivation occurs, test mitigation strategies.

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.

The research team is highly interdisciplinary and includes Professor Jan-Diederik van Wees (supervisor, UU/TNO), Dr Ylona van Dinther (UU), Dr Loes Buijze (TNO) as well as other investigators of NEPTUNUS including Dr Thomas Ulrich (LMU Munich), Dr Ir Femke Vossepoel (TU Delft), Professor Jan Dirk Jansen (TU Delft), and Dr Annemarie Muntendam-Bos (TU Delft/SodM). The research will be performed at Utrecht University and TNO.

You have a Master’s degree (MSc) in Earth Sciences, Physics, Applied Mathematics or Engineering with demonstrable affinity with geophysical or sub-surface processes, ultimately obtained at the start of the position.

We seek someone with analytical (theoretical) and/or computational skills and experience with studying earthquakes, faults, and/or reservoirs would be an advantage. A broad interest in earthquakes, and the willingness and capacity to interact with the team members, are essential. You should be proficient in English (C1 level in speaking and writing) and have excellent scientific writing and presenting skills. You are an independent thinker, enthusiastic team player and have good communication skills.

If you already have a PhD degree, unfortunately, we cannot consider you for this position.

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

For informal questions, please contact Prof Dr Jan-Diederik van Wees at or Dr Ylona van Dinther at

To apply click this link to the equivalent of this advertisement on our own website and follow the guidelines mentioned there. Interviews are expected to take place soon after the application deadline of April 14, 2024.

The position can start as soon as June 1, 2024 or ultimately by Fall 2024. Note that international candidates that need a visa/work permit for the Netherlands require at least four months processing time after selection and acceptance. Finding appropriate housing in or near Utrecht is your own responsibility and, unfortunately, we must warn that it is a tight market at the moment.

Online screening may be part of the selection. Commercial response to this ad is not appreciated.