The Department of Sediment and Isotope Geology, Faculty for Geosciences at the Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany, invites applications for a

PhD position (36 months) in the DFG-funded project `Facies architecture, palaeoecology and biotic spatial self-organization of a Devonian, sediment-impacted carpet reef´


The Middle and Late Devonian time interval witnessed the perhaps largest Palaeozoic expansion of epeiric platform carbonates. We intend to study an exceptionally exposed Devonian reefal biostrome in the Klutert Cave in Western Germany. We argue that this cave represents a compelling test case to investigate the facies architecture, palaeoecology and biotic spatial self-organization of a Givetian sediment-impacted reef. The Klutert Cave `out´crops are intriguing for several reasons: (i) the reefal body is stratigraphically thin (<12.3 metres) and qualifies as a 'carpet-reef', not unlike many Holocene reefs. The reef is intercalated between clastic units and its core and flanks are exposed laterally for about 450 x 200 m within the cave. The extremities of the reef flanks pinch out in road cuts in the vicinity of the cave. (ii) The reef is extremely well-exposed both laterally as well as stratigraphically. The recently-cleaned walls of the visitor cave provide access to 26,000 m2 of continuous rock surfaces exposing the base, core, flanks and top of the reefal body in exquisite detail. (iii) The host matrix sediment indicates significant clastic input (turbidity) onto the shelf during the comparably short interval of reef growth.

Based on detailed facies maps of cave walls, we intend to numerically test these outcrops for the hallmarks of intrinsic biotic self-organization arising out of the interaction between consumers (here stromatoporoids, tabulate and rugose corals) and their resources (nutrients, illumination, space etc.). We intend to compile a refined, spatial and quantitative model of a Devonian reefal structure. In the context of this research project, we collaborate with Prof. S. Purkis, RSMAS Univ. Miami with regard to geostatistical analysis, with Dr. M. Aretz, Univ. Paul Sabatier, Toulouse with regard to the taxonomy and palaeoecology of Devonian reef builders and Prof. S. Lokier, Bangor University, an expert for sediment-impacted reefs.


We seek an enthusiastic PhD student holding a M.Sc. degree with a specialization in sedimentology and/or palaeontology. The ideal candidate has a background in general (carbonate) sedimentology, palaeontology and field geology. The ideal candidate is numerically curious and has worked with, or is interested to work with Principal Component Analysis and MATLAB® programming.


The successful applicant must be physically able to perform field work in a (visitor) cave and in outcrops in the vicinity of the cave. Following an introduction, the PhD will, in a first phase, map the reefal facies in the cave and measure stratigraphic sections in the cave and beyond. In a second phase, the focus will shift to thin section analysis and the assessment of diagenetic and geochemical aspect. In a third phase, the data obtained will numerically analysed within the context of patterns in biotic self-organization during reef initiation, acme and demise. We expect that the applicant is capable to communicate and publish in English and to present his/her work at international conferences. Knowledge of the German language is beneficial but not a requirement.

Please contact Prof. A. Immenhauser for more details.

Please submit your application in the form of a pdf until October 31. 2020 to, (cc to Your application should include a letter of motivation, a Curriculum Vitae, contact information of at least two references and a copy of certificates.

We regret that travel expenses for interviews cannot be refunded. At Ruhr-Universität Bochum, we wish to promote careers of women in areas in which they are been underrepresented, and we would therefore like to encourage female candidates to send us their applications. Applications by suitable candidates with severe disabilities and other applicants with equal legal status are likewise most welcome.

Ruhr-Universität Bochum is an equal-opportunity employer.

posted: 16 September 2020     Please mention EARTHWORKS when responding to this advertisement.