The Department of Earth Sciences of ETH Zurich has been consecutively ranked #1 for four years in the QS World University Rankings, Earth & Marine Sciences. The Chair of Engineering Geology consists of approximately 25 multidisciplinary scientists involved in a leading research and teaching program in quantitative engineering geology and hydrogeology. We are inviting applications for a PhD position in the area of alpine hydrogeology.

PhD Position - Characterizing groundwater dynamics and solute
transport in an Alpine valley

This project is part of collaborative effort aimed at gaining insight into the manner in which the generation of bedrock fractures due to large scale topographic changes controls groundwater flow dynamics and solute transport in a large Alpine basin (the Matter Valley, Switzerland). Mountains occupy a critical position within the water cycle. They act as “water towers” which progressively deliver water accumulated during periods of precipitation or snowmelt to surface and groundwater systems at the valley floor. However, the mechanisms of groundwater recharge, storage, and discharge remain poorly understood in such environments. This is, in part, due to a lack of knowledge into i) the distribution of bedrock fractures and aquifer compartmentalization of the mountain slopes and ii) the dearth of hydrological data available. Hydraulically conductive near-surface fractures develop in response to a redistribution of bedrock stresses as glaciers and rivers progressively erode the alpine landscape. A mechanistic description of landscape evolution - combining field observations and geomechanical modelling - can provide critical insight into the spatial distribution of fracture networks driving groundwater flow dynamics. Similarly, hydrological and geochemical observations will provide key information into the degree of bedrock fracturing and its connectivity at the watershed scale. This project specifically aims at connecting the complementary nature of hydro-geomorphological characteristics of the landscape to better constrain the spatial distribution of groundwater resources and their dynamics. Information on similar projects can be found on and

The successful candidate will have strong skills in applied hydrogeology, a passion for Earth sciences and willingness to work in multidisciplinary projects. Candidates with demonstrated field skills are strongly encouraged to apply. The successful candidate must have an MSc in Earth Sciences, Environmental Engineering or related field and be strongly interested in research. This position will start in fall 2018 and last for three years. You will be tasked with i) undertaking a geological and hydrological characterization of selected watersheds, ii) deploying a field monitoring system to quantify water and solute fluxes within these watersheds, and iii) modelling the impact of structural heterogeneities on groundwater flow partitioning and solute transport. The candidate will be required to work in a multidisciplinary team tasked with synthesizing field observations in order to transfer geomechanical model results (developed as part of a complimentary PhD project) to hydrogeological properties.

We look forward to receiving your online application including a cover letter, a curriculum vitae which describes your complete personal details and career history, complete course grades and transcripts, digital copies of both Bachelor and Master theses, and one representative publication (if applicable). Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

For further information about the Department of Earth Sciences and the Chair of Engineering Geology please visit our website Questions regarding the position should be directed to Dr. Clement Roques, Engineering Geology by email (no applications).

posted: 03 July 2018     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.