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Bayi Glacier in Qilian Mountain, China (Credit: Xiaoming Wang, distributed via

Job advertisement PhD student in alpine hydrogeophysics

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European Geosciences Union

PhD student in alpine hydrogeophysics

PhD student in alpine hydrogeophysics


University of Lausanne (UNIL)

Lausanne, Switzerland


Relevant divisions
Hydrological Sciences (HS)
Seismology (SM)

Part time

Student / Graduate / Internship


Preferred education

Application deadline
15 May 2024

9 April 2024

Job description


The University of Lausanne (UNIL) is a leading international teaching and research institution composed of seven faculties where approximately 17,000 students and 5,000 collaborators, professors, and researchers work and study. Ideally situated on the lake of Geneva, near Lausanne’s city centre, its campus brings together over 120 nationalities. As an employer, UNIL encourages excellence, individual recognition, and responsibility.


A PhD position is available to work with the Applied and Environmental Geophysics Group within the Institute of Earth Sciences (ISTE) at UNIL, in close collaboration with the Centre for Hydrogeology and Geothermics (CHYN) at the University of Neuchâtel (UNINE). The PhD project will address process- and methodology-oriented questions in alpine hydrogeology and geophysics. The research will be developed in the Val d’Ursé catchment, located in the Bernina mountain range in the canton of Graubünden, Switzerland. This catchment is underlain by crystalline bedrock, where groundwater storage and flow are controlled by a dense network of fractures and faults. It has a large rock glacier on its north-east facing slope, which contributes to water and solute fluxes through freeze-thaw cycles.

Process-based questions to be addressed within this PhD include: How do permafrost dynamics and freeze-thaw cycles impact groundwater recharge and flow patterns? What is the contribution of freeze/thaw cycles in the rock glacier on groundwater recharge and mixing at the hillslope scale? How can one detect enhanced flow channelling within the fracture network at the catchment scale? Methodology-related questions include: How can geophysical data be used to inform or test distributed groundwater models of alpine catchments? What geophysical methods and measurement configurations are best suited for this purpose? Geophysical techniques to be considered include (i) drone-based ground-penetrating radar to study the rock glacier and fracture patterns in the near subsurface; (ii) electrical resistivity surveying to study water-content dynamics and fracture-induced anisotropy; and (iii) self-potential measurements to learn about groundwater flow patterns and diurnal variations in flow dynamics below the rock glacier. The chosen PhD student will have the possibility to adapt the specific research direction based on her/his interests.

Job Information

Expected starting date: 01.09.2024 or to be decided upon
Contract length: 1 year, renewable up to 4 years
Activity rate: 100%
Workplace: Institute of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Geosciences and Environment, University of Lausanne

Your Responsibilities

Work independently and in collaboration with project partners to advance research within the scope of a PhD thesis. Contribute (15%) to teaching or other institutional activities.

Your Qualifications

We are looking for candidates with an MSc in the Earth sciences (ideally in geophysics or hydrogeology), physics or engineering, who are willing to conduct fieldwork in a high-altitude alpine environment for extended periods of time and implement advanced data processing and modelling approaches. Proficiency in English is expected and working knowledge of French is an advantage, but not necessary.

What the position offers you

You will join an institute of 160 members dedicated to research and teaching in the Earth sciences. We offer a multicultural, diverse and dynamic academic environment, with opportunities for professional training and networking.

Contact for further information and informal enquiries

Prof. Niklas Linde (

Your application

Deadline: 15 May 2024

Please provide the following documents in PDF format:

- A cover letter stating your overall motivation for the position
- Your CV
- A copy of your diplomas
- Names and contact details of three potential referees

Applications must be submitted here