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. Leveraging the complementary
nature of these observations, insights into streamflow recession and groundwater chemistry derived from
a parallel hydrogeological investigation will provide independent verification of assumed spatio-temporal
variations in fracturing as a result of valley evolution. Information on similar projects can be found on
www.stressdriven.com and www.clementroques.com.
The successful candidate must have an MSc in Earth Sciences, Environmental Engineering or related
field and be strongly interested in research. Knowledge and experience in rock mechanics,
geomorphology, and / or numerical modelling are important. Good technical and writing skills are
desired. The duration of the position is 3 years. You will be tasked with constraining a 3D geomechanical
model capturing bedrock fracturing in response to fluvial and glacial erosion since the mid-Pleistocene
Transition (~0.94- 0.89 Ma). Characterization of selected tributary catchments will involve engineering
geological mapping, evaluation of progressive fluvial and glacial erosion, and interpretation of results
from (ambient vibration) seismic investigations. The candidate will be required to work in a
multidisciplinary team tasked with synthesizing field observations in order to transfer geomechanical
model results to hydrogeological properties (these are required inputs to a complimentary PhD project).
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 www.engineeringgeology.ethz.ch/. Questions regarding the position should be
directed to Dr. Kerry Leith, Engineering Geology, by email firstname.lastname@example.org (no applications).